Haass Rumored to Be New Mideast Pointman

Richard Haass is rumored to be set to become new Middle East pointman (see Jim Lobe below). This would be a good choice. See his profile at Wikipedia. Richard Nathan Haass (born July 28, 1951, Brooklyn) has been president of the Council on Foreign Relations since July 2003, prior to which he was Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State and a close advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell. See, “The New Middle East,” in Foreign Affairs 2006.

Syria Implies Terms for Resumption of Talks with Israel, As-Sharq al-Awsat (Thanks Alex)

Walid Mouallem, Syria’s Foreign Minister, explains that Syria set its terms for a resumption of indirect negotiations with Israel. They are:

1) Hudna between Hamas and Israel
2) Opening up access to Gaza
3) Ensuring that Israel’s engagement with the Syrians will not be at the expense of the Palestinian track.

 وعن إيقاف سورية للمفاوضات غير المباشرة عبر الوسيط التركي رداً على العدوان الإسرائيلي، أوضح الوزير المعلم أن «هذه المحادثات انطلقت في ظل تهدئة بين حماس وإسرائيل مدتها ستة أشهر وتنص على رفع الحصار»، مؤكداً أن إسرائيل هي التي خرقت هذه التهدئة، قبل أن يتابع «أن شرط المحادثات غير المباشرة كما يعرف الأشقاء في تركيا كان ألا تقوم إسرائيل بأي عمل عسكري ضد غزة أو الضفة الغربية وأن لا يكون ذلك على حساب المسار الفلسطيني ومن الطبيعي عندما قامت إسرائيل بهذا العدوان الهمجي ضد غزة أن تتوقف المحادثات غير المباشرة رغم أن استعادة الجولان المحتل هو أمر مهم وغال بالنسبة لسورية ويشكل أولوية لكن هذا الموقف مهم من جانب القيادة السورية لأن ما يجري في غزة من مجازر يستحق وقف هذه المحادثات غير المباشرة ويبرهن أن إسرائيل ليست لديها إرادة صنع السلام»

Mouallem was much more vague about “terms” than the Assharq Alawsat article suggests. The context is provided below. Mouallem preserves flexibility for Syria to restart talks in the future.

Syria: Israel proved it doesn’t want peace
Roee Nahmias Published: 01.05.09/ Israel News

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem defined the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip as “a barbaric act any way you look at it” and called on the international community “to try those responsible to these war crimes which violate international law, including the Geneva Treaty.” 

In a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan after completing a series of meetings in Ankara, Moallem said, “I came to Turkey to discuss ways to bring about an immediate ceasefire, a removal of the blockade and the opening of all crossings, as well as finding a mechanism to achieve these goals.

“I stress to you that our opinions are similar and that we have formed a joint stance.”…. Turkish Foreign Minister Babacan called on Israel to hold its fire immediately. …. 

“Relying on the Security Council at this stage is imaginary and wont’ achieve a thing,” he claimed.  Moallem said the indirect Turkish-mediated talks between Syria and Israel were halted “naturally”.

When the indirect talks began there was an agreement on a lull between Hamas and Israel achieved through Egypt. It was valid for six months, during which the siege should have been lifted, but Israel violated it two weeks later,” the Syrian minister argued. 

“Turkey knew that the talks between us were being held as long as Israel didn’t launch a military operation in Gaza or in the West Bank and that this would not be at the expense of the Palestinians. It was natural that in such a situation, with the aggression on Gaza, the talks would be halted.

“Returning the Golan Heights is important, but this stance is also important to the Syrian leadership. This aggression proves that Israel has no desire for peace.”

 Dennis Ross Will Get Iran File, Haass will get Israel-Arab conflict, says Nelson Report: by Jim Lobe

“…Dennis Ross will become Special Envoy for Iran, reporting directly to SecState-designate Clinton, rather than to the White House. …

Nelson also reports that Richard Haass will be Special Envoy for Israel-Arab affairs, apparently something of a compromise between Ross and Dan Kurtzer. For the direction he is likely to take, particularly regarding the Palestinian and Syrian tracks, see my article on his recent report co-authored with Martin Indyk. They also wrote a version of their policy recommendations in the latest edition of Foreign Affairs.

Nelson reports that Richard Holbrooke will become and Special Envoy for India and Pakistan and Anne Marie Slaughter head of Policy Planning, among many other likely appointments of particular relevance to Asia policy.”

Also see Lobe’s « Heilbrunn Reviews Neo-Con Travails

Beyond Iraq: A New U.S. Strategy for the Middle East
By Indyk and Haass
View article at Foreign Affairs, January/February 2009

Iraq has dominated U.S. policy in the Middle East for the last six years, but this is no longer necessary. The Obama administration will be able to reduce the U.S. presence in Iraq while pursuing a grand bargain with Iran, promoting peace between Jerusalem and Damascus, and forging a final-status Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

Khalid Mish`al, This brutality will never break our will to be free
For six months we in Hamas observed the ceasefire. Israel broke it repeatedly from the start
The Guardian, Tuesday 6 January 2009

For 18 months my people in Gaza have been under siege, incarcerated inside the world’s biggest prison, sealed off from land, air and sea, caged and starved, denied even medication for our sick. After the slow death policy came the bombardment. In this most densely populated of places, nothing has been spared Israel’s warplanes, from government buildings to homes, mosques, hospitals, schools and markets. More than 540 have been killed and thousands permanently maimed. A third are women and children. Whole families have been massacred, some while they slept.

This river of blood is being shed under lies and false pretexts. For six months we in Hamas observed the ceasefire. Israel broke it repeatedly from the start. Israel was required to open crossings to Gaza, and extend the truce to the West Bank. It proceeded to tighten its deadly siege of Gaza, repeatedly cutting electricity and water supplies. The collective punishment did not halt, but accelerated – as did the assassinations and killings. Thirty Gazans were killed by Israeli fire and hundreds of patients died as a direct effect of the siege during the so-called ceasefire. Israel enjoyed a period of calm. Our people did not….. (read the rest)

Bush Plan Eliminated Obstacle to Gaza Assault
Inter Press Service | Gareth Porter | January 5, 2009

WASHINGTON, Jan 5 (IPS) – Until mid-2007, there was a serious political obstacle to a massive conventional war by Israel against Hamas in Gaza: the fact that Hamas had won free and fair elections for the Palestinian parliament and was still the leading faction in a fully legitimate government.

But the George W. Bush administration helped Israel eliminate that obstacle by deliberately provoking Hamas to seize power in Gaza. That plan was aimed at getting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the democratically elected Hamas government — something Bush had tried unsuccessfully to do for many months….

A New Middle Eastern Cold War
Michael Young, 01.05.09
The true theater behind Gaza.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The term “Arab cold war” was popularized by the late American scholar Malcolm Kerr, who in 1971 published a book of the same name. A deserving classic at a concise 166 pages (with index), The Arab Cold War examined how the Arab world of the 1950s and 1960s was governed by “urgent appeals to Arab unity,” when the reality was that “its governments and parties [were] dominated by bitter rivalry.”….

…. Judging from the limited Egyptian reaction to his injunctions, Nasrallah overplayed his hand. The Arab states, mediocre as they are, are more solid than their enemies imagine. Militant Islamist groups may be better at fighting Israel, but they cannot substitute for what states offer. However, the traditional Arab powerhouses are being marginalized by the more dynamic non-Arab states on their periphery–Iran, Turkey and Israel–as well as by some Arab states, such as Syria and Qatar, that have profited from the widening rifts provoked by the new Middle Eastern cold war.

What lessons are there for the United States here? The Obama administration should recognize these dynamics and accept that its allies are less credible because they are undemocratic, have narrow legitimacy, and offer no hope of amelioration to their peoples, while Israel further undermines them by denying a political horizon to the Palestinians.

Arab democratization is a bad word for many Obama Middle East hands, who seek a return to a political realism justifying making deals with America’s foes. Democracy-building smacks too much of George W. Bush. Yet unless the Arabs open their societies up in states that are more than monuments to intimidation, America’s allies will continue to lose ground, and America with them. In the realism game, Iran and Syria, like the militant Islamists, are better than Washington. The Americans won one cold war, but victory in this Middle Eastern version may be dodgier.

An Iraqi debt: Editorial of the Baltimore Sun
Our view: America should do more to aid 2 million refugees from the war we started
January 4, 2009

Violence is significantly lower these days in Iraq, and the Americans who still keep the peace there are busy planning for a significant troop withdrawal over the next 18 months. But that country’s hopes for a brighter economic future are shadowed by the loss of more than 2 million refugees – many of them doctors, lawyers, teachers and engineers – who have fled to Jordan, Syria and other neighboring countries.

Most of these displaced people are afraid to return to Iraq, which they believe remains unsafe. Now they are trapped in countries where they are less than welcome and sinking into poverty. It’s a plight laid out in vivid detail in a recent series of stories by Baltimore Sun reporter Matthew Hay Brown.

Their continued exile represents a challenge that America has a responsibility to deal with. The United States has resettled more than 16,000 Iraqis over the past two years. The Bush administration has contributed more than $500 million to the United Nations and other organizations to address the crisis. But as the country that unleashed the chaos that fed the Iraqi exodus, America should be doing much more.

During last year’s presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to provide at least $2 billion to expand services to these Iraqi refugees, and that’s a pledge he must keep, if this nation is to accept its moral responsibility to help victims of the war.

Ending the War in Gaza International Crisis Group

Royal Slams US “Reckless” Position On Gaza

RIYADH (AFP)–A member of the Saudi royal family blasted the U.S. government on Tuesday for its “reckless” position towards Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip.

“The Bush administration has left you (with) a disgusting legacy and a reckless position towards the massacres and bloodshed of innocents in Gaza,” Prince Turki al-Faisal said in a message directed at President-elect Barack Obama. “Enough is enough, today we are all Palestinians and we seek martyrdom for God and for Palestine, following those who died in Gaza,” Faisal, a former ambassador to the U.S., said at a forum on relations between the Gulf region and the U.S.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal slammed Israeli politicians for “shedding Palestinian blood in what has become a tactic for Israeli parties to settle their election battles.” In an address read out at the forum by his deputy, the minister said peace in the region won’t be achieved unless Israel pulls out of the territories it occupies.

He called on Obama to live up to his campaign message of “change,” urging co-operation with the Arab world. “Together we can reach a peaceful and permanent solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict,” he said.

Comments (131)


Yossi said:

I apologize for posting off topic.

A fact often missed about the War on Gaza is that the Israeli Defense Ministry stubbornly refused to employ or even test technological means to intercept the Kassam rockets fired from Gaza.

To make a long story short, Israel refused to protect its attacked citizens with a C-RAM system based on the Phalanx canon or a laser canon. Both said to be tested successfully in Iraq for similar aims.

There were serious public objections to this policy, even a semi-campaign led by the Haaretz newspaper to at least try one of these weapon systems but the MoD stood firm.

Why? Some says the MoD is afraid that using these systems will harm future export of a currently developed anti-missile missile system called Kipat Barzel. This system has already proved unsuitable for intercepting Kassams due to its very long response time.

Another theory is that the Kassams provide an excuse for the Gaza siege and a campaign of “targeted assassinations” against the Hamas. This campaign already took about 1000 lives before the current war started. Hiding political interest behind humanitarian concern seems to be a trait of both Israel and the US.

January 6th, 2009, 5:08 pm

 

Chris said:

The best we can hope for is that at the end of all this the stalemated peace-process will start to move forward. The divided state of the Palestinians has been a key obstacle to any meaningful progress toward implementing an agreement (many analysts say that the countours of such an agreement are already well-defined). Hamas has played the spoiler role in the past; when progress would be made between Abbas and Israel, it would step up its attacks so as to undermine the PA and appear to be the one that was actually doing something while the PA was collaborating. The division within the Palestinian camp also eliminated the prospect of any real agreement because without Hamas on board Israel couldn’t obtain the security guarantees that would induce it to make the concessions necessary for any agreement. In my view, even if Hamas was on board it probably would not have been able to stop the attacks as it appeared that Hamas was not able to stop the attacks during the cease-fire with Israel. So, perhaps the situation on the ground, i.e. Hamas-rule in Gaza, will change in such a way as to allow for an opening in the negotiation process. I’m hesitant to even refer to it as a peace process, because peace will be a long way off after all this, but of course, for the aforementioned reasons the prospects for peace were dim before this began .

On the other hand, the PA can’t come riding into Gaza on the back of Israeli tanks, for obvious reasons.

My heart goes out to all those in Gaza and southern Israel.

January 6th, 2009, 5:13 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Is anyone here surprised (see below)? Hey Shai, what happened to the great “leading player in the region”?

Shai stated in the last thread:

Perhaps this is an opportunity for Syria to reestablish itself as a leading player in the region, as it has successfully done for the past number of years.

Then there’s reality:

DAMASCUS, Syria – French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Syria on Tuesday to exert pressure on its ally Hamas in order to help end the fighting in the Gaza Strip between the militant Palestinian group and Israeli forces.

His Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, did not respond to Sarkozy’s call to intercede with Hamas, instead slamming the Israeli assault on the coastal strip as a “war crime” and an “aggression” that Israel must halt.

The visit also comes as Egyptian officials are stepping up pressure on the Syria-based Hamas leadership to accept a cease-fire in the fighting in Gaza, Egyptian officials said Tuesday.

But so far, the European drive doesn’t appear to have borne fruit.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090106/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_mideast_diplomacy_3

January 6th, 2009, 8:11 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

There’s a reason Sarkozy made sure to stop in Damascus on this speedy-tour of the region, and it’s precisely because he, unlike George W. Bush, understands that Syria is a key player. The Turks, incidentally, are trying to also bring closer Syria, Egypt, and KSA, out of the same recognition.

I really do find it surprising that you still reject this notion – that Syria has a leadership role to play in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

January 6th, 2009, 8:20 pm

 

Chris said:

Shai,

I think it would be more accurate to characterize Syria’s role as that of a spoiler rather than a leader. While it may just be semantics, it is significant that their allies/proxies are rejectionist groups rather than groups interested in making serious progress towards peace and reconciliation. Therefore, I think “leadership” is an odd word to use when attempting to characterize Syria’s role.

January 6th, 2009, 8:30 pm

 

why-discuss said:

In a declaration in front of the turkish parlement, Erdogan reminded Israel: The ottomans protected your grandparents when you were you suffered oppression, I was expecting the same from you.” He added that this is a black spot in the history of Israel that will be severely judged by history.
As far as I am concerned, I have no more sympathy for the holocaust or the jews because I see it has engendered a monster covered with money and technology feeding itself with the blood of innocents.

January 6th, 2009, 8:39 pm

 

Shai said:

Chris,

I don’t see why Syria’s allies determine whether she has a leadership role to play or not. The opposite, it is precisely because Syria is ally also to this “rejectionist camp”, that makes her more influential in the present and future. Who better to bridge between the U.S. and Iran, than Syria? Or between Israel and Hezbollah or Hamas? Plus remember, today’s rejectionist is tomorrow’s potential peace partner. Wasn’t Sinn Fein a rejectionist? Weren’t Egypt and Jordan?

Read what the French-Jewish author Mark Halter, who met with Khaled Mashaal on Friday, says about his message to Sarkozy. He says Mashaal “wants to be a player in the region”, and that he’s willing to talk to Israel about the 1967 borders…

Israel’s biggest enemies in the region are Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Who can better help us with these – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Syria? Hence the “leadership role”. It can be attributed also to present enemies, I believe, not only to friends.

January 6th, 2009, 8:47 pm

 

Alex said:

Chris

“their allies” … like Turkey? Qatar? The President of Lebanon?

Syria talks to everyone who wants to talk … the Bush administration, Mubarak and King Abdullah can not talk to Syria, but that’s their choice.

But Syria is talking to all kinds of extremists … Israel, Hamas, Iran …

Because .. extremists are there … we can not wish them away.

And we can not allow one side of extremists (Israel) to have the upper hand … so we use one set of extremists to balance the other side of extremists.

At the end, they will all have no place to go but the center.

January 6th, 2009, 8:55 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Turkey sides with Hamas and accuses Israel of ‘barbaric ‘ behavior and not having respected the temporary cease fire by keeping Gaza under siege.

Erdogan Searches for Diplomatic Response to Israeli Invasion of Gaza
Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 1
January 5, 2009 11:00 AM Age: 1 days
By: Saban Kardas

Israel’s ongoing offensive against Gaza has generated waves of anger among the Turkish public and Turkish political elite. Paralleling mounting street demonstrations throughout Turkey are international attempts by the country’s leaders to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis. The attacks came amid Turkey’s growing involvement in the Middle East as a significant power seeking to exert influence through nonmilitary means, including economic and trade relations, cultural exchanges, and its new-found role as a regional peace broker. The governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has successfully involved Turkey in attempts to resolve the region’s protracted problems, most importantly Israel’s entangled relations with its Arab neighbors.

When Israel launched air strikes on December 27, Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the high number of civilian deaths and emphasized Turkey’s concern that the developments might undermine regional stability (www.mfa.gov.tr, December 27). Erdogan criticized the operation and labeled Israeli aggression as an act against Turkey’s peace initiatives, noting that through this action Israel had shut the door on diplomacy. He said that any diplomatic contact with Israel was meaningless at that point and called on the United Nations to intervene to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. He also cancelled his plan to call Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to discuss Israel-Syria negotiations, because Israeli aggression was also “an act of disrespect toward Turkey” (Radikal, December 27).

Erdogan’s disillusionment with Israel can be better understood given Olmert’s visit to Ankara a few days earlier, during which they discussed the status of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Olmert asked Erdogan to revitalize the Israeli-Syria talks (www.cnnturk.com, December 23). Erdogan was preparing to play a more assertive role as a peace-broker in 2009, but Israel’s unrestricted use of force and apparent “insincerity” toward Turkey might have shattered his optimism about finding a comprehensive solution to Middle Eastern conflicts through dialogue.

In response to Israel’s uncompromising position, the Erdogan government embarked on a diplomatic offensive to mobilize the international community. Since the outbreak of the crisis, Erdogan has spoken to world leaders such as the UN Secretary-General and European politicians (Anadolu Ajansi, January 4). He went on a “Middle East tour” to consult with regional leaders and explore a common position against Israel. On the first step of his shuttle-diplomacy, he met with the leaders of Syria, Jordan, and Egypt, as well as Palestinian politicians. The second step of his tour took him to Saudi Arabia. Following his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Erdogan announced Turkey’s proposal for a two-stage plan to calm tension in Gaza. The first stage would be a ceasefire supervised by international peacekeepers, including Turkish forces. The second stage would seek to find a common ground between rival Palestinian groups in order to achieve a sustainable peace in the region (www.ntvmsnbc.com, January 2; Sabah, January 3).

In the midst of these initiatives, Turkey appears to be seeking ways to bridge the divisions among Arab countries as well. While some Arab countries tend to feel that Hamas has the main responsibility for the collapse of talks with Fatah and are seeking to isolate it because of its alleged connections to Iran, Turkey is arguing against its isolation (Referans, December 30). At a time when Hamas is also coming under international criticism for sparking Israeli aggression, Erdogan defended the organization by saying that “agitation does not come from Hamas; rather, Israel has created fertile ground for this agitation.” Referring to a June 2008 deal brokered by Egypt, he maintained that “Hamas complied with the six-month long ceasefire. Yet, Israel did not lift the embargo. The people of Gaza are living in an open prison.” Erdogan went on to add that “Turkey could sponsor Hamas’s conditions for a ceasefire at the UN Security Council [UNSC], because Hamas’s trust in the Palestinian authority and Egypt has been shaken” but it still had full confidence in Turkey (Yeni Safak, January 3; http://www.cnnturk.com, January 4).

Here, Erdogan had in mind Turkey’s new role as a non-permanent member of the UNSC, which it assumed this month. However, the United States’ threat to veto any resolution to halt Israeli attacks, as reflected in the January 3 consultation meeting of the SC, will not make it easy for the Erdogan government to use this avenue for supporting Palestinian interests. It is also important to note that Erdogan has repeatedly emphasized Turkey’s willingness to work in tandem with Egypt as a defender of the Palestinian cause.

At the same time, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan met with his counterparts. He phoned the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, himself a Turk, and arranged an emergency meeting of the OIC Foreign Ministers (www.mfa.gov.tr, December 28). The final communiqué of the OIC meeting held on January 3 strongly condemned “the ongoing barbaric Israeli assault on the Palestinian people in Gaza” and proposed a number of measures to mobilize the international community to relieve the suffering of Palestinians and end Israel’s attacks (www.oic-oci.org, January, 3). Similarly, Turkey also urged the Arab League’s foreign ministers to work toward a ceasefire and facilitate reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

The start of Israel’s ground offensive despite these efforts raises questions about the future of Turkish-Israeli relations. In response to a question, Erdogan had earlier said, “Inter-governmental relations cannot afford emotions. Yet, injustice cannot be permitted either. If there is oppression, we cannot support it. We seek to solve it through talks” (Zaman, January 2). Given Israel’s lack of interest in “talks,” on the one hand, and Turkey’s pro-Hamas position and exclusion of Israel from its diplomatic initiatives, on the other, it will be interesting to see how Erdogan will advocate Palestinian rights in international forums and whether Turkish-Israeli cooperation can survive the storm.

January 6th, 2009, 9:07 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

I think it would be more accurate to characterize Syria’s role as that of a spoiler rather than a leader.

Chris,

I said that yesterday. Thank you for reaffirming my sanity…

January 6th, 2009, 9:11 pm

 

ugarit said:

One of the jobs of a leader is to be the spoiler when and where that action is warranted Syria has used that capability wisely.

January 6th, 2009, 10:19 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

The cited link expresses in its own fashion the logic espoused by GWB that Hamas is a major threat to the existance of a democratic Israel.

In its own way Israel’s invasion of Gaza is in line with the philosophy that only Judeo/christians are able by divine right determine the character of the regimes in power in the Middle East.

Enjoy: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1052981.html

January 6th, 2009, 10:20 pm

 

sam said:

Not to get off the topic, did anyone hear the latest out of the Obama camp about the conflict? It was the same song and dance of one president at a time, but when he commented on if someone fired rockets where his daughters slept, he would do the same thing. He should be asked, what he would do, if his daughters were being fired on by an F-16, or blackhawk gunship? Maybe when they release the shoe thrower he can ask Obama.

January 6th, 2009, 11:19 pm

 

Joshua said:

Spoiler – Now there is term just begging for Einstein’s relativity theory.

Chris – Why not give us a for example on Syria as spoiler? You write that “Syria’s role is that of a spoiler rather than a leader.”

I know it is popular to characterize Syria as the spoiler, but it seems to me that Syria views the US as the spoiler in the Middle East in much the same way as the US depicts Syria as the spoiler. Of course, each power believes it is working for the right and good.

Syria would argue that

The US and Israel spoiled Palestine by giving it to the Jews.

Spoiled Arab efforts to right the imbalance numerous times by continuing to side with Israel and by allowing it to win lopsided victories.

Spoiled Lebanon by intervening in 1982 and 2006.

Spoiled Iraq by invading and destroying the country and sending the entire middle class into exile as well as hunks of other classes as well.

Of course, the US believed it was working for the good in each of these interventions and would have succeeded in making life for the Arabs better had not evil powers, such as Syria, resisted the benevolence of its foreign policy.

I suppose that is what you mean when you call Syria a spoiler?

January 6th, 2009, 11:22 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

CHRIS

You said that it is significant that Syria’s “allies/proxies are rejectionist groups rather than groups interested in making serious progress towards peace and reconciliation.”

Who exactly is the party interested in making this serious progress towards peace and reconciliation?

January 6th, 2009, 11:42 pm

 
 
 

Ghat Albird said:

To all those whose heart goes out to the Palestenians.

Selected photos.

http://portail.islamboutique.fr/gaza2008/

January 7th, 2009, 12:54 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Is this spoiling or peace buiding?

‘Define e. J’lem Arabs as Palestinians’

To keep Israel – not including Judea and Samaria – Jewish, democratic and economically viable, the state should redefine about a quarter of a million Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem as Palestinians, not Israelis.

“Erasing” citizenship from quarter of million citizens would be a rather unseen movement in present times. Even suggesting such is rather “unseen”. I do not want to upset Shai by asking where last we had seen such “steps” were taken. Well naturally this is only a suggestion – for now, but undoubtedly the majority of Israeli Jews would approve it.

Interestingly the think-tank doesn’t say in the article should Arab part of Jerusalem be part of Israel. If yes which I suppose they plan then what would be the legal situation of those 0.25 million ex Israelis? Israel would have created itself a new problem. 0.25 million Palestinian citizens inside Jewish Israel.

A think-tank in Europe suggesting that Jews, Muslims etc would have to stripped of the citizenship, to keep the country “pure”, would at once labelled as a “the word Alex doesn’t allow” think tank. In Israel this is done without some shame. Well a couple can be ashamed, the vast majority not.

January 7th, 2009, 12:56 am

 

norman said:

Today, In the security council , The Saudi forign minster seemed to have given the council a threat of Saudi or Arab action if the council does not act,

That would be interesting , I hope i got that right.

January 7th, 2009, 2:05 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Dr. Josh said:

Chris – Why not give us a for example on Syria as spoiler? You write that “Syria’s role is that of a spoiler rather than a leader.”

Syria would argue that the US and Israel spoiled Palestine by giving it to the Jews.

Dear Professor Josh,

cc: Chris

I would like to respond to your comments if Chris doesn’t mind. Now you’re sounding like Shai. Do YOU speak for Syria? Perhaps we should start with YOU just speaking for YOURSELF. Let’s start:

Do YOU believe “the US and Israel spoiled Palestine by giving it to the Jews”?

For a Professor such as yourself who is supposedly a Co-director of the “Center of Peace Studies” at the University of Oklahoma, your language doesn’t sound very “peaceful” to me.

http://www.cfr.org/publication/14957/

And, BTW, your statement isn’t even accurate. The US and Israel didn’t “give” Israel to the Jews, the United Nations “gave Israel to the Jews”.

http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_independence_recognition_who.php

How about:

Spoiled Lebanon by supporting terrorist networks throughout Lebanon thus contributing to tens of thousands of deaths during the Lebanese civil war.

Spoiled Lebanon and Israel by supporting Hizbullah and their amassing of arms which they have used indiscriminently against Israel.

Spoiled Iraq by allowing armed fighters and insurgents across the Syrian border to fight against the newly elected Iraqi goverment.

Spoiled stability in the Middle East by supporting Iran and Iran’s terror-supporting and anti-semitic government and working with North Korea on secret nuclear programs.

Spoiled Syria by holding back on Syrian democracy and freedom.

Spoiled Syria by holding back the Syrian economy, education, and jailing those who speak out against the government.

Spoiled Syria by wiping out Hama to the tune of some 20,000 dead.

Spoiled Arab efforts to right the imbalance numerous times by continuing to side with Israel and by allowing it to win lopsided victories.

Siding with Israel isn’t a crime. Siding with Israel is the only way Palestinians will get an independent state. Under Egyptian and Jordanian rule they never got independence.

Spoiled Lebanon by intervening in 1982 and 2006.

And the Syrians never “intervened” in Lebanon? Please…

Spoiled Iraq by invading and destroying the country and sending the entire middle class into exile as well as hunks of other classes as well.

Or “spoiled” Iraq by creating a democracy and giving Iraqis the chance to govern themselves and join the community of nations, instead of fighting against them.

Or “spoiled” Iraq by cleaning out the Baathists and the jihadists who brought decades of death to Iraq.

Of course, the US believed it was working for the good in each of these interventions and would have succeeded in making life for the Arabs better had not evil powers, such as Syria, resisted the benevolence of its foreign policy.

Syria isn’t evil. The terror-supporting government of the Assad family is.

I suppose that is what you mean when you call Syria a spoiler?

Not exactly, but now you have MY clarification and now I have yours.

January 7th, 2009, 2:16 am

 

Observer said:

It does not matter if it is Haas, Indyk, Ross, Clinton, all of them are in denial regarding the facts
1. The arab regimes are totally illegitimate
2. Non state actors are replacing failed states in many countries
3. The population explosion is going to make matters much much worse
4. Israel has lost the ability to prevent attacks on the home front
5. Only nuclear weapons are left for the West and Israel to deter
6. The will to fight a long sustained war is gone in the West and in Europe and seemingly in Israel as well.
7. Sarko le premier came and the mountain delivered a mouse, he thinks that he is still a 19th century power.
8. Hamas and Hizballah have an edge as they are recruiting successfully from people who have nothing left to lose and are now ready to stand and fight
9. I have no doubt that Israel is capable of obliterating Gaza and Hamas but will only get an even more fanatic and virulent form instead sprout.
10. Hoping to shock and awe like the 67 war is finished once and for all. The people have developed a 12 inch thick skin since then and will take more punishment than ever and will deliver some in return.
11. The brutality has lasted so long that the Arab regimes are truly in a bind when the leaders of Malaysia, Turkey ( the model of modern secular Islam ) and Venezuela seem to have more balls than the current leadership.
12. Abbas and Fatah are finished once and for all
13. Iran has shown that it is supporting Muslims and not just Shia and therefore has made a huge inroad into the Arab world.

January 7th, 2009, 2:51 am

 
 

norman said:

Observer,

That was a very insightful observation ,

I agree,

The Mideast is being radicalized and more extreemist who are will to fight back are emerging.

January 7th, 2009, 3:10 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

And now with Akbar’s modifications:

1. The arab regimes are totally illegitimate

except for Syria

2. Non state actors are replacing failed states in many countries

except for Iraq

3. The population explosion is going to make matters much much worse

except for Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China

4. Israel has lost the ability to prevent attacks on the home front

except for Lebanon

5. Only nuclear weapons are left for the West and Israel to deter

except for Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan

6. The will to fight a long sustained war is gone in the West and in Europe and seemingly in Israel as well.

except for the above

7. Sarko le premier came and the mountain delivered a mouse, he thinks that he is still a 19th century power.

Correct. A French trait perhaps.

8. Hamas and Hizballah have an edge as they are recruiting successfully from people who have nothing left to lose and are now ready to stand and fight

Some “edge”. If only the rest of civilized world had such and edge.

9. I have no doubt that Israel is capable of obliterating Gaza and Hamas but will only get an even more fanatic and virulent form instead sprout.

I heard this 30 years ago. I’ve think we’ve reached the fanatic/virulent asymptote 20 years ago.

10. Hoping to shock and awe like the 67 war is finished once and for all. The people have developed a 12 inch thick skin since then and will take more punishment than ever and will deliver some in return.

Their 12 inch thick skin still needs food, clothing, and shelter to gain enough energy to pick up a semtex vest.

11. The brutality has lasted so long that the Arab regimes are truly in a bind when the leaders of Malaysia, Turkey ( the model of modern secular Islam ) and Venezuela seem to have more balls than the current leadership.

Its all so confusing.

12. Abbas and Fatah are finished once and for all

They don’t seem finished in the West Bank. Granted, I don’t care as long as they aren’t firing missiles into Israel.

13. Iran has shown that it is supporting Muslims and not just Shia and therefore has made a huge inroad into the Arab world.

Can Iran free the Palestinians like Nasser, Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat, Nasrallah, and Assad the Elder wanted?

Stay tuned…

January 7th, 2009, 3:12 am

 

norman said:

Mubarak wanted Hamas to lose, according to Haaretz, what kind of patriots are these,

هآرتس: مبارك أكد لوفد أوروبي ضرورة هزيمة حماس

مبارك أثناء اجتماعه بالوفد الأوروبي في شرم الشيخ (رويترز)

ذكرت صحيفة هآرتس الإسرائيلية اليوم الثلاثاء أن الرئيس المصري أبلغ الوفد الوزاري الأوروبي الذي زار البلاد أمس الاثنين أنه ينبغي عدم السماح لحركة المقاومة الفلسطينية (حماس) بكسب المعركة التي تخوضها في غزة ضد قوات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي.

وكان حسني مبارك قد اعتبر أن حماس تتحمل الجانب الأكبر من المسؤولية عما يتعرض له أهل غزة من اعتداءات غير مسبوقة لأنها قررت إنهاء التهدئة، ولم تستمع لنصيحة مصر بضرورة تجديدها.

وفي وقت لاحق طالب الرئيس المصري بوقف الهجوم الإسرائيلي, لكنه في الوقت نفسه رفض طلب حماس فتح معبر رفح بشكل دائم مشترطا اشتراك إسرائيل في مراقبته بموجب اتفاقية المعابر لسنة 2005 التي تنظم تنقل الأشخاص بين قطاع غزة ومصر.

ولاحظت اليومية العبرية أن تصريح مبارك خلال لقائه في شرم الشيخ الوفد الأوروبي بقيادة وزير خارجية التشيك كارل شوارزنبرغ -الذي تسلمت بلاده الرئاسة الدورية للاتحاد الأوروبي من فرنسا- جاء قبل ساعات من إعلان القاهرة عن دعوة وفد من قيادة حماس بالخارج لمناقشة أفكار تهدف لإنهاء الهجوم الإسرائيلي على غزة.

وتابعت أن الوفد الذي ضم وزير خارجية فرنسا برنارد كوشنر والممثل الأعلى للسياسة الخارجية للاتحاد الأوروبي خافيير سولانا, والذي توجه من القاهرة إلى إسرائيل وأبلغ وزيرة خارجيتها تسيبي ليفني خلال لقاء بالقدس المحتلة أمس بفحوى المقابلة مع مبارك.

ونقل الوفد إلى ليفني ما صدر عن مبارك خلال اجتماع مغلق حيث قال الرئيس المصري قال لزواره إن “حماس يجب ألا تخرج منتصرة من القتال في غزة” بحسب هآرتس.

وأضافت الصحيفة أن مبارك نفى, خلال الحديث عن الشروط الإسرائيلية لوقف النار ومنها وضع حد لتهريب الأسلحة إلى القطاع عبر مصر, أن تكون بلاده ممرا للتهريب. وقال إن الأسلحة تهرب إلى غزة في حاويات تلقيها سفن قبالة غزة وتقوم الفصائل بعد ذلك بالتقاطها.

ووفقا للصحيفة، فإن الوفد الوزاري الأوروبي شدد خلال الاجتماع مع ليفني على التوصل لوقف النار بأسرع ما يمكن للسماح باستئناف المفاوضات بين إسرائيل والسلطة الفلسطينية.

المصدر: الصحافة الإسرائيلية

January 7th, 2009, 3:19 am

 

Averroes said:

Today’s photos and footage were particularly heart breaking. I hope you Israelis saw the Palestinian speaking in Hebrew and showing the deceased children shot. The child looked almost asleep with a peaceful, heart breaking look on his face.

Shai, Rumyal, and other peace loving Israelis. As much as one can clearly see that you are good individuals, it is unfortunate that you are a very small minority in the mob rule that is called Israel. Look at Israeli main media, look at the vicious reader replies on Yedot and the Jerusalem Post. What kind of people are your people?

I think that if I were in your position, I would truly and honestly leave the country, because I would not want anything to do with such a rabid state.

Cast Lead will only buy your people so much time. The day of reckoning is still coming. No doubt about it.

January 7th, 2009, 3:26 am

 

Rumyal said:

Averroes,

It’s easy for you to say. The truth is that we don’t know how any of you Arabs would have behaved if you were born as Jews in Israel. Furthermore, the folks that come here, from any side of the spectrum, are not typical people in terms of their intelligence, open-mindedness, worldliness, etc. It should not be difficult for you to imagine that the appliance repairman living in Sderot is not capable of reasoning in the level of arguments that we entertain here. He is not concerning himself all day long with existentialist questions. He knows three things: (1) what he learned in elementary school (that his country is his and all Arabs want to kill him) and (2) that rockets are fired at him daily and driving him nuts and (3) what he hears on the Israeli TV—that Hamas wants to kill him unconditionally and there is nobody to talk to even though all efforts have been invested in doing so. So what other conclusions could he be reaching other than that the Palestinians are getting what they deserve?

Can you imagine how difficult it is for the person on the street to adopt an independent world-view? I’ll be very honest with you and share my personal experience. I grew up in a right-wing house. Up until my late youth years I didn’t question the gospel. Then it started seeming a little bit inconsistent but I was still very connected to my family so the position I took was that “all politics are nonsense and I don’t want to hear or talk about it”. This escapism is typical. It was much easier than a heads-on conflict with the entire “clan”. It took me years and a lot of miles between me and them to get to the level of awareness and honesty I have today. Well, the striking majority of Israelis don’t have this luxury of introspection.

If there are any individuals you should feel anger towards its our leaders, but we already know they are criminals, both in their private and in their public lives.

January 7th, 2009, 7:26 am

 

Alex said:

Rumyal,

You are so right. That’s why I am saddened after I watch 30 minutes of CNN’s coverage even though they are not showing dead Palestinian children.

It makes me realize again the power of that brainwashing in extending the conflict … I can imagine how these cowards in CNN or the New York Times who are worried that if they dared report it as it is, they will receive 500 emails from camera.org subscribers telling them that their reporting was not “accurate” and that they should stick to reporting about Hamas the murderers…

Averroes my friend, the killing in Gaza is awakening many other Jewish intellectuals to the less glamorous face of Israel:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-israel-palestine

How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe
Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state’s legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions

The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.

Four decades of Israeli control did incalculable damage to the economy of the Gaza Strip. With a large population of 1948 refugees crammed into a tiny strip of land, with no infrastructure or natural resources, Gaza’s prospects were never bright. Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic under-development but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods. The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence.

Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era. Jewish settlements in occupied territories are immoral, illegal and an insurmountable obstacle to peace. They are at once the instrument of exploitation and the symbol of the hated occupation. In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion’s share of the scarce water resources. Cheek by jowl with these foreign intruders, the majority of the local population lived in abject poverty and unimaginable misery. Eighty per cent of them still subsist on less than $2 a day. The living conditions in the strip remain an affront to civilised values, a powerful precipitant to resistance and a fertile breeding ground for political extremism.

In August 2005 a Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral Israeli pullout from Gaza, withdrawing all 8,000 settlers and destroying the houses and farms they had left behind. Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, conducted an effective campaign to drive the Israelis out of Gaza. The withdrawal was a humiliation for the Israeli Defence Forces. To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But in the year after, another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state. Land-grabbing and peace-making are simply incompatible. Israel had a choice and it chose land over peace.

The real purpose behind the move was to redraw unilaterally the borders of Greater Israel by incorporating the main settlement blocs on the West Bank to the state of Israel. Withdrawal from Gaza was thus not a prelude to a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank. It was a unilateral Israeli move undertaken in what was seen, mistakenly in my view, as an Israeli national interest. Anchored in a fundamental rejection of the Palestinian national identity, the withdrawal from Gaza was part of a long-term effort to deny the Palestinian people any independent political existence on their land.

Israel’s settlers were withdrawn but Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air. Gaza was converted overnight into an open-air prison. From this point on, the Israeli air force enjoyed unrestricted freedom to drop bombs, to make sonic booms by flying low and breaking the sound barrier, and to terrorise the hapless inhabitants of this prison.

Israel likes to portray itself as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. Yet Israel has never in its entire history done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of secret collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes to suppress Palestinian nationalism. Despite all the handicaps, the Palestinian people succeeded in building the only genuine democracy in the Arab world with the possible exception of Lebanon. In January 2006, free and fair elections for the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority brought to power a Hamas-led government. Israel, however, refused to recognise the democratically elected government, claiming that Hamas is purely and simply a terrorist organisation.

America and the EU shamelessly joined Israel in ostracising and demonising the Hamas government and in trying to bring it down by withholding tax revenues and foreign aid. A surreal situation thus developed with a significant part of the international community imposing economic sanctions not against the occupier but against the occupied, not against the oppressor but against the oppressed.

As so often in the tragic history of Palestine, the victims were blamed for their own misfortunes. Israel’s propaganda machine persistently purveyed the notion that the Palestinians are terrorists, that they reject coexistence with the Jewish state, that their nationalism is little more than antisemitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of religious fanatics and that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But the simple truth is that the Palestinian people are a normal people with normal aspirations. They are no better but they are no worse than any other national group. What they aspire to, above all, is a piece of land to call their own on which to live in freedom and dignity.

Like other radical movements, Hamas began to moderate its political programme following its rise to power. From the ideological rejectionism of its charter, it began to move towards pragmatic accommodation of a two-state solution. In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a national unity government that was ready to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Israel, however, refused to negotiate with a government that included Hamas.

It continued to play the old game of divide and rule between rival Palestinian factions. In the late 1980s, Israel had supported the nascent Hamas in order to weaken Fatah, the secular nationalist movement led by Yasser Arafat. Now Israel began to encourage the corrupt and pliant Fatah leaders to overthrow their religious political rivals and recapture power. Aggressive American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Their meddling was a major factor in the collapse of the national unity government and in driving Hamas to seize power in Gaza in June 2007 to pre-empt a Fatah coup.

The war unleashed by Israel on Gaza on 27 December was the culmination of a series of clashes and confrontations with the Hamas government. In a broader sense, however, it is a war between Israel and the Palestinian people, because the people had elected the party to power. The declared aim of the war is to weaken Hamas and to intensify the pressure until its leaders agree to a new ceasefire on Israel’s terms. The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza are seen by the world simply as a humanitarian problem and thus to derail their struggle for independence and statehood.

The timing of the war was determined by political expediency. A general election is scheduled for 10 February and, in the lead-up to the election, all the main contenders are looking for an opportunity to prove their toughness. The army top brass had been champing at the bit to deliver a crushing blow to Hamas in order to remove the stain left on their reputation by the failure of the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in July 2006. Israel’s cynical leaders could also count on apathy and impotence of the pro-western Arab regimes and on blind support from President Bush in the twilight of his term in the White House. Bush readily obliged by putting all the blame for the crisis on Hamas, vetoing proposals at the UN Security Council for an immediate ceasefire and issuing Israel with a free pass to mount a ground invasion of Gaza.

As always, mighty Israel claims to be the victim of Palestinian aggression but the sheer asymmetry of power between the two sides leaves little room for doubt as to who is the real victim. This is indeed a conflict between David and Goliath but the Biblical image has been inverted – a small and defenceless Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless and overbearing Israeli Goliath. The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness. In Hebrew this is known as the syndrome of bokhim ve-yorim, “crying and shooting”.

To be sure, Hamas is not an entirely innocent party in this conflict. Denied the fruit of its electoral victory and confronted with an unscrupulous adversary, it has resorted to the weapon of the weak – terror. Militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad kept launching Qassam rocket attacks against Israeli settlements near the border with Gaza until Egypt brokered a six-month ceasefire last June. The damage caused by these primitive rockets is minimal but the psychological impact is immense, prompting the public to demand protection from its government. Under the circumstances, Israel had the right to act in self-defence but its response to the pinpricks of rocket attacks was totally disproportionate. The figures speak for themselves. In the three years after the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. On the other hand, in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children.

Whatever the numbers, killing civilians is wrong. This rule applies to Israel as much as it does to Hamas, but Israel’s entire record is one of unbridled and unremitting brutality towards the inhabitants of Gaza. Israel also maintained the blockade of Gaza after the ceasefire came into force which, in the view of the Hamas leaders, amounted to a violation of the agreement. During the ceasefire, Israel prevented any exports from leaving the strip in clear violation of a 2005 accord, leading to a sharp drop in employment opportunities. Officially, 49.1% of the population is unemployed. At the same time, Israel restricted drastically the number of trucks carrying food, fuel, cooking-gas canisters, spare parts for water and sanitation plants, and medical supplies to Gaza. It is difficult to see how starving and freezing the civilians of Gaza could protect the people on the Israeli side of the border. But even if it did, it would still be immoral, a form of collective punishment that is strictly forbidden by international humanitarian law.

The brutality of Israel’s soldiers is fully matched by the mendacity of its spokesmen. Eight months before launching the current war on Gaza, Israel established a National Information Directorate. The core messages of this directorate to the media are that Hamas broke the ceasefire agreements; that Israel’s objective is the defence of its population; and that Israel’s forces are taking the utmost care not to hurt innocent civilians. Israel’s spin doctors have been remarkably successful in getting this message across. But, in essence, their propaganda is a pack of lies.

A wide gap separates the reality of Israel’s actions from the rhetoric of its spokesmen. It was not Hamas but the IDF that broke the ceasefire. It di d so by a raid into Gaza on 4 November that killed six Hamas men. Israel’s objective is not just the defence of its population but the eventual overthrow of the Hamas government in Gaza by turning the people against their rulers. And far from taking care to spare civilians, Israel is guilty of indiscriminate bombing and of a three-year-old blockade that has brought the inhabitants of Gaza, now 1.5 million, to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Biblical injunction of an eye for an eye is savage enough. But Israel’s insane offensive against Gaza seems to follow the logic of an eye for an eyelash. After eight days of bombing, with a death toll of more than 400 Palestinians and four Israelis, the gung-ho cabinet ordered a land invasion of Gaza the consequences of which are incalculable.

No amount of military escalation can buy Israel immunity from rocket attacks from the military wing of Hamas. Despite all the death and destruction that Israel has inflicted on them, they kept up their resistance and they kept firing their rockets. This is a movement that glorifies victimhood and martyrdom. There is simply no military solution to the conflict between the two communities. The problem with Israel’s concept of security is that it denies even the most elementary security to the other community. The only way for Israel to achieve security is not through shooting but through talks with Hamas, which has repeatedly declared its readiness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with the Jewish state within its pre-1967 borders for 20, 30, or even 50 years. Israel has rejected this offer for the same reason it spurned the Arab League peace plan of 2002, which is still on the table: it involves concessions and compromises.

This brief review of Israel’s record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism – the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel’s real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones. Politicians, like everyone else, are of course free to repeat the lies and mistakes of the past. But it is not mandatory to do so.

• Avi Shlaim is a professor of international relations at the University of Oxford and the author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World and of Lion of Jordan: King Hussein’s Life in War and Peace.

January 7th, 2009, 8:38 am

 

Chris said:

Josh,

Sorry for not writing back earlier. The internet connection at my apartnment is acting up.

There two key instances in which Syria played the spoiler role that immediately come to mind. First, the Oslo Process. It appears, that because Syria was not at the table it opposed the process. A comprehensive deal, in which Syria’s claims would be addressed would have been more advantageous to Syria. Perhaps, for the same reason that the U.S. pushed for six-party talks with North Korea, Syria aimed for a process that included more than just the Palestinians and Israel at the negotiating table. More could be obtained and addressed if more parties were opposite Israel at the table. Syria didn’t want to be left out in the cold. So, it actively opposed the peace-process. In so doing it gave safe-haven to rejectionist groups such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and George Habash’s PFLP, which violently torpedoed the peace-process. Now we all have views on the prospects for success of the Oslo Process, but those aside, Syria did play the spoiler role during Oslo.

Secondly, during the Lebanese civil war it appears that Syria assasinated Presdent-elect Bachir Gemayel who aimed to sign a peace agreement between Lebanon and Israel. Bachir Gemayel led the Lebanese Forces in battle against Syrian troops and may have worked with Israel, if only tacitly, during the civil war. It is widely believed (I’ve never heard anyone differ with this assertion) that he intended to sign a peace agreement with Israel after becoming elected. So, before taking office, but after being elected he was assasinated by a member of the Damascus-linked Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Habib Taniounis, who was later freed from prison by the Syrian army. While we do not have conclusive evidence of Syrian involvement both the motive and the assasin point to Syrian involvement. In addition to Oslo, the assasination of Bachir Gemayel is an instance in which Syria is violently linked to subverting prospects for peace between Israel and the region.

I’m sure you are familiar with the adage in Middle East policy circles: There can be no war without Egypt and there can be no peace without Egypt. This saying has gained currency because it has resonance with people. Ultimately, Syria has gained the reputation of playing the spoiler role through the way it operates.

January 7th, 2009, 8:52 am

 

Alex said:

Chris,

While I can’t agree or disagree with the Bashir Gemayel assassination charges (I don’t know), I can tell you that Hafez Assad promised President Clinton to not actively oppose Oslo … he knew it will fail by itself because it was flawed. President Clinton in his book never accused the Syrians of sabotaging Oslo.

But after the Neocons showed up and after they started to promise Syria that it will be next after Iraq (2004) … I don’t think the arrangement between Hafez Assad and Bill Clinton was valid anymore and I don;t think there was any way Oslo was valid anymore.

George Habash and other Palestinian leaders opposed to Yasser Arafat were living in Syria forever … this has nothing to do with Oslo or opposing Oslo.

Hafez Assad always had serious issues with the leadership of Yasser Arafat.

January 7th, 2009, 9:14 am

 

Chris said:

Alex,

Syria is a totalitarian regime where civil society is controlled by the state. In such an environment, George Habash’s PFLP, PFLP-GC, PIJ, and Hamas don’t simply exist as a result of the government not actively banning them (as it sounds like you imply by asserting that Georg Habash has been there “forever”), the state makes an active decision to host them. It ponders whether such groups give them leverage, whether a positive relationship with such groups is beneficial, and what harm can come from them operating on Syria soil. After weighing these types of issues the regime decided that it was in their interest to allow such groups to build camps in Syria/Lebanon and to use land under Syrian control as a base of operations.

More importantly though, Syria did and does provide active support to rejectionist groups. It may have even given *tanks* to the PFLP-GC.

January 7th, 2009, 9:59 am

 

why-discuss said:

Rumyal and Shai

Do you seriously believe you can change the mindset of 70% of the Israeli, obsessed by their power and blind to the right of others to leave in peace and to the killings of innocents? I think the psychotic illness is far too deep and will require many psychological shocks for Israel to get out of the darkness they are in. It is sad that such a country is praised and boosted by leaders who don’t dare say the truth and keep Israel in it wrong path.
Erdogan is the only one who has dared name the massacre of Gaza and Isreal with real qualifiers. I hope more leaders will realize they are not serving Israel’s cause by minimizing the evil it is doing not only to palestinians but to humanity.

January 7th, 2009, 10:33 am

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

Indeed Erdogan was brave enough to say what he did, and Israel should listen carefully to his warning.

What I’m trying to achieve is not the “therapy” my people need (be it via psychological shocks as you called them – meaning violent or nonviolent ones), but rather the steps we need to take, before we can begin healing. The first such step, is the withdrawal from all lands occupied after 1967, period. In order to do that, it seems we need to reach some agreement with Syria, and with someone on the Palestinian side that hopefully governs over the entire 4 million citizens of Palestine, be it Hamas, Fatah, or someone else. This has to be done, regardless of whether there can ever be peace or not.

My hope, is that if and when this can happen, much of our needed “therapy” could begin. I have great fears, that if we continue to choose the road of violence, we could easily find ourselves reaching far more dangerous depths of this abyss than perhaps we are currently contemplating. It is reaching this undefined threshold we must fight against, by continuing to push for the nonviolent course, whether in parallel to the violent one, or not.

January 7th, 2009, 12:10 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Ultimately, Syria has gained the reputation of playing the spoiler role through the way it operates.

Chris,

Stating the obvious including the presentation of clear examples has never impressed anyone here.

Observer states:

It does not matter if it is Haas, Indyk, Ross, Clinton, all of them are in denial regarding the facts

Exactly, none of them question Israel’s right to exist.

And on this website, “The Peace Center” Professor doesn’t have a large following of participants who have come to grips with Israel.

Syria Comment and the Arab world are still fighting the ’48 war.

Hey, no one said “The Peace Center” was going to be a bowl of cherries!;)

January 7th, 2009, 12:24 pm

 

Chris said:

In post #30 the second to last sentence was supposed to read “I’m sure you are familiar with the adage in Middle East policy circles: There can be no war without Egypt and there can be no peace without Syria.”

January 7th, 2009, 12:38 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Here’s a shocker:

Israeli team can’t play in Turkey because Turkish fans are upset about Israel’s involvment in Gaza:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3651926,00.html

Of course no one asks the Turks how many “terrorists” they’ve killed and how missiles they’ve had to absorb in Turkish population centers:

http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=161078

The hypocrisy continues…

January 7th, 2009, 12:53 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Yesterday, Egypt submitted a ceasefire proposal that was immediately approved by the U.S. and the E.U. Hamas and Israel are “studying it”. What happened to all the analysis that announced that Egypt could no longer serve as a power broker in Gaza?

January 7th, 2009, 12:58 pm

 

Chris said:

“Syria Comment and the Arab world are still fighting the ‘48 war.”

Totally! To go even further I would venture to say that many are still fighting the crusaders, the British, and the French. Add to those histories the desire for a return to a long lost, and much exaggerated, period of former glory (the heydays of the Islamic caliphate under the Umayyad and Abbasids) and you’ve got one battered sense of honor and self-respect. So, the fight will go on and the Arab world will yearn for another Salah Al Din or another Nasser. But of course, the crusades were long ago, and Nasser well, we saw how that turned out.

January 7th, 2009, 1:08 pm

 

ugarit said:

Chris said: “Syria is a totalitarian regime where civil society is controlled by the state.”

No. Syria is an authoritarian regime and not a totalitarian one.

Saudi Arabia a “moderate” [means it does what the US asks] Arab state is an authoritarian and a totalitarian regime.

I’ll leave it to you as homework to figure out the differences.

January 7th, 2009, 1:31 pm

 

trustquest said:

QN,
Question to you, if the current active proposal is coming from Egypt, what is the state of the recent Assad announcement on CNN that he is willing to play the role of mediator between Israel and Hamas. Can he take the lead on this front? Do you think that no one is taking him seriously and they just want to give him the role of applying extra pressure on Hamas? If he has no role then the only significant of Assad statement is his pronouncement that he is still on track with negotiations with Israel and his eagerness to meet with the Obama.

January 7th, 2009, 4:16 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa,

I hope you are not referring to me : )

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=1882&cp=all#comment-223390

Trustquest,

“Do you think that no one is taking him seriously”

I think you often read the news the way you want to read them.

Gaza is Egypt’s responsibility … Syria has no border with Gaza. But when it comes to dealing with Hamas, it is half half … Syria has leverage over the political Hamas leadership, Egypt has contacts with Hamas in Gaza … Egyptian intelligence and army was selling arms to Hamas all the time … they were arranging the smuggling business to Gaza.

Syria has an important role to play because they can influence Hamas on the strategic decision making level … But untl Syria finds a way to have a border with Gaza, Egypt has the more important role to play on the ground in Gaza.

Never mind that no one in the Bush administration is mentioning what is obvious .. it was Egypt (“moderate Arab”, at peace with Israel, Egypt) that was, knowingly, selling and transferring arms to Hamas all along.

January 7th, 2009, 4:50 pm

 

Joshua said:

Dear Chris,

You ask whether Syria’s effort to stop the US and Israel from promoting Bashir Gemayyel to the presidency of Lebanon was an act of spoiling.

Syria was definitely a spoiler from a US and Israeli point of view, but not from Syria’s point of view, which was that Israel and the US were the spoilers by invading Lebanon and forcing their interests on Syria, Palestinians, and Lebanese.

Let us review the objectives of each side.

Israel invaded Lebanon with several goals:

1. in order to destroy the PLO, kill Arafat and the Palestinian leadership, and exclude the organization from any territorial propinquity with Israel, thereby ending the military struggle once and for all. (Israel and US were largely successful in this because PLO was expelled to Tunis, but Intifada broke out a few years later, proving that Palestinian nationalism was not the invention of a criminal gang of terrorists but a popular aspiration that would sping up again in a new form. Prime Minister Begin was clear that his aim in defeating the PLO and signing Camp David Accord was to allow Israel a free hand in settling Judea and Samaria or West Bank.

2. Reestablishing a pro-Israeli-US government in Lebanon that would police the Palestinian exclusion, allowing Israel to withdraw. This meant returning to the status-quo anti of tight Maronite control of Lebanese state, which the Gemayyel clan and Kata’ib promised. The US began training the Christian led Lebanese army to this end and promised to guarantee safety of Palestinians left in camps, but demanded that Bashir sign peace with Israel.

3. Drive Syria forces and influence from Lebanon, isolating Syria. Reducing Soviet influence and confirming Israel’s annexation of the Golan, which had been made law in 1981, prior to the invasion.

From Syria’s point of view, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and effort to make Bashir president was not a “creative act of leadership” but a “Zionist-Imperialist” plot to destroy Palestinian Nationalism, grab Lebanon from Syria’s sphere of influence, and promote Christian over Muslim control of Lebanon, all of which hurt Syrian interests by making the annexation of Golan a done deal, etc.

It was only natural that Syria would resist such an effort to hurt it. From Syria’s point of view, the US and Israel were the spoilers and Syria was defending what was right. Probably the majority of Middle Easterners sympathized with Syria in this.


As for you claim that most people here are fighting 1948, this is bomb throwing. I presume you mean by this that most desire to drive Israel into the sea? The consistent line of all authors on SC is to accept 1948 state lines and the acceptance of Israel.

The interesting and constructive dialoge between Shai, Rumyal and the many commentators on SC is based on this understanding of the acceptance of Israel’s presence within its 1948 borders. Of course, the recent Gaza war has passions enflamed and makes many lose hope, but I think you will find those who comment on SC a reasonable bunch who understand that whiping the other side of the map is not an answer.

Alex, Ehsani, I and others who author posts on SC are very clear about wanting to establish clear international borders. We believe this is a prerequisite to peace and normalization in the region.

Do you share this goal – or are you a supporter of the international borders minus 7% in order to give Jerusalem and existing settlement blocs to Israel? Or do you support some other solution?

To argue that we want to push Israel into the sea, is not only to mistate our goals but to be willfully provocative.

Best, Joshua

January 7th, 2009, 5:09 pm

 

Peter H said:

Chris,

In addition to the assasination of Gemayel, you could also mention Syria’s role in subverting the May 17 agreement. But a couple of additional points need to be made. First, an Israel-Lebanon agreement was not about creating “prospects for peace between Israel and the region.” On the contrary, the May 17 agreement was designed, as Josh says, to weaken the Palestinians & Syrians. Second, there was much internal opposition within Lebanon to the May 17 agreement as a submission to Israeli agression ((I’m sure our Lebanese commenters can talk more about this), and to the extent it was supported, it was only to get the Israeli forces out of Lebanon.

January 7th, 2009, 5:52 pm

 

trustquest said:

Thanks Alex, you exactly said what I want to say. How, if Syria role is what you mentioned and Egypt role what you have stated, that is mean each has his role in a crisis like this. If, I was the in his place, I would not instruct my Media minister to start a campaign against Egypt, because if I did, I’m cancelling Egypt role in this critical times on the Gazans, and presenting myself as the soul player in solving the crisis. You need to reach and talk and keep bridges if you want to play politics, isn’t this is the mantra of the regime towards the US.
I meant of not taking him seriously, they are not giving him the role he aimed to, which means he is tailoring a suit which is too large for him, if I want to express what I mean.

January 7th, 2009, 6:08 pm

 

idaf said:

QN said:

“Yesterday, Egypt submitted a ceasefire proposal that was immediately approved by the U.S. and the E.U. Hamas and Israel are “studying it”. What happened to all the analysis that announced that Egypt could no longer serve as a power broker in Gaza?”

Actually QN,if you were following the news yesterday evening (ME time) minute-by-minute, you would have noticed the following interesting series of events:

Sarkozy had discussion with Asad and left Syria to Lebanon. Spent few hours then instead of going back to Paris as planned he went to Sharm el-Sheikh for another unplanned meeting with Mubarak.

During which, CNN aired Asad’s interview (which was recorded during Sarkozy’s visit to Syria) in which Asad announced “the Turkish-Syrian initiative” for a truce.

When Sarkozy was on the way to Paris (or maybe about to leave Egypt) the Syrian TV had breaking news flash late last night saying “Sarkozy calls Asad to discuss Gaza”.

Egypt then announced the “Egyptian initiative” for the truce.

Today Sarkozy announced that Israel accepted the “truce” (which Israel seems to have accepted and then changed its mind later – see Reuters article below).

If this reading of events is correct then my conclusion is that everyone finally saw the light and the truce is eminent with concessions from both Israel and Hamas on earlier demands (as was expected on day one and similar to the final results of the 2006 Israel war on Lebanon). The problem now is the “face”, “pride” and “credit” issues. Who will appear as a winner and who will take credit? Egypt wants to appear as the only broker of the truce to change the perception of its public disgrace around the Arab and Muslim world.

However, the terms of Sarkozy’s truce leaked by the media are exactly the same ones that Turkey and Syria wanted in the first place. So basically as was the case with the electioneering “Grapes of Wrath” onslaught on Lebanon back in the nineties and the following “April Understanding” in 1997, this truce -if it takes place- will effectively be brokered by France and Syria between the Israelis and the Palestinians (instead of the Lebanese) this time around. Turkey this time is the main broker and has taken the key leadership role of the US back in 1997.

Egypt on the other hand, is effectively being extended a lifeline here to save face and appear that it is Mubarak who managed to stop the war. Taking credit now for stopping the Israeli onslaught is invaluable for Egypt as a badly needed damage control. It’s a political life saver for Mubarak that has been offered on a golden plate by the Turks and the Syrians through the French. If so then we should see an improvement of Syrian-Egyptian relations soon.

Maybe it too soon, but this is my reading for now. Either case, Hamas will eventually emerge as the winner in the eyes of the Palestinian and Arab masses and it will sweep the next elections. Barak will also emerge as a winner in the Israeli side and might win the next elections. Turkey will have won more kudos in the Arab world and extended its regional leadership. Syria will also have a won as it will be perceived as the only country in the Arab world that stood by Hamas. The only losers here are the US (more diminishing leadership, credibility as well as waste of soft power in the Arab world) and of course the “moderate Arabs” who’s credibility and popularity would plunge deeper and deeper in the Arab world to the benefit of the non-state actors and opposition in their respective countries. On the longer run however, Israel cost-benefit analysis would be negative as it would have lost Turkey as an ally, severely weakened its “moderate Arab” allies (Abbas, Egypt and Jordan to a lesser extent), delayed possible peace agreement with Syria (or is this a positive thing to most Israelis?!) and most importantly made a Hizbulla our of Hamas on the political and support levels among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

This said however, it still might be too soon…
Sarkozy sparks confusion on Gaza truce plan
Wed Jan 7, 2009 9:55am EST
(Adds Sarkozy’s office saying not announcing acceptance)

PARIS, Jan 7 (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday Israel had accepted an Egyptian truce plan for Gaza, but his office later said he was simply welcoming Israel’s previously announced reaction to the proposal.

Egypt said on Tuesday it was proposing an immediate truce between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, to be followed by talks on long-term border arrangements and an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Israel said it viewed talks on the proposal “positively” but stopped short of accepting Egypt’s plan.

“The president is delighted by the acceptance by Israel and the Palestinian Authority of the Franco-Egyptian plan presented last night in Sharm el-Sheikh by (Egyptian) President (Hosni) Mubarak,” Sarkozy’s office said in a statement.

“The head of state calls for this plan to be implemented as quickly as possible for the suffering of the population to stop,” it added.

The statement’s use of the term “acceptance” prompted Israel to say it had not accepted the Egyptian plan and it was still in talks on the proposal.

An official in Sarkozy’s office said later that the French statement was merely a reaction to Israel’s earlier positive comments about the plan and that it was not announcing Israel’s acceptance of the Egyptian proposal.

“It is a reaction to the statements by Israel and the Palestinians,” the official said. (Reporting by Estelle Shirbon amd Yann Le Guernigou)

January 7th, 2009, 6:17 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

“Peace Professor” Josh states:

The consistent line of all authors on SC is to accept 1948 state lines and the acceptance of Israel.

The interesting and constructive dialoge between Shai, Rumyal and the many commentators on SC is based on this understanding of the acceptance of Israel’s presence within its 1948 borders.

Dear Professor Josh,

cc: Chris

Once again, if I may add my 2 cents:

Professor Josh, IMHO you are being disingenuous. SEVERAL authors here continue to question Israel’s legitimacy. If I had the time, I could produce hundreds of posts showing you. Here are a few recent ones:

91. Shami said:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5mQk8s3phI&feature=related

Allah Yerhamo.

15. Observer said:

What a pity that the Russian Jewish delegation in 1905 insisted that Palestine be the homeland of the new Jewish state when the other delegations were quite open to having the state be in South America or Australia.

32. Joe M. said:

Norman,

No matter the technology of their weapons, 6 million outsiders will never defeat 350 million indigenous. The zionists are simply digging their own grave deeper and deeper every day.

You are right. I don’t know when, but we will win. There is no other option.

34. Averroes said:

Gilad Atzmon – Living on Borrowed Time in a Stolen Land

4. abu zatar said:

israel cannot leave in Peace, is a permanent state of terror and war. Peace means the end of the zionist dream (the failure of the “biblical great israel”, the dream of zionists) and the end of millions of dollars in donations from the diasporas (that increase every time israel is at war). Only war and permanent danger (”existential threat”) unite jews, that’s why they have to live with a permanent threat or enemy (PLO, Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah, Arabs etc…). And do not forget the basic racist ideology at the base of zionism. Even if they destroy all Arab and anti israeli resistance and subjugate neighbors, Israel will not leave in peace, because there is a psychological Freudian complex inside every Israeli jew, is the fact they are living in stolen houses, in a land who belongs to others.

12/28/08

13. Nour said:

If “Israel” attacked Gaza because of the rocket attacks, then why would they have breached the ceasefire to begin with?

12/28/08

This is just a smattering, and your comment yesterday about the US and Israel giving Palestine to the Jews is another indication of your “objectivity”.

Your forum is generally a handful of of anti-Zionist crybabies who can’t understand why a country wants to defend herself from indiscriminant missile fire. And they have you as their “ideological” leader.

January 7th, 2009, 6:17 pm

 

bondo said:

richard haass is good if you like another jewish zionist representing the us in the ME. ross, indyk. you are joking, right?

January 7th, 2009, 6:19 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

Because people like you among Likud’s friends can only see what they want to see, we now have a proper poll of Syria Comment’s readers… did you notice it?

The numbers, before Israel invaded Gaza ad started to murder children, were 72% for Syria to conclude peace talks with Israel even before Israel and the Palestinians reached their final solution… and another 15-20% for Peace with Israel after the Palestinians sign their peace agreement with Israel … about 90% for peace with Israel.

Since Israel showed its ugly face again, the numbers only went down to 64% (plus the smae 15-20% for peace after the Palestinians settle)

Probably about 10% of these readers who voted are not Syrian, and most do not live in Syria, so this poll does not represent a scientific sample of Syrian people in general, but at least to answer Chris and Akbar’s allegations about the readers of Syria Comment, I think the poll is more than clear.

But of course you are only used to searching and saving examples of cases where some people fail to express their love and admiration to Israel, so that you can use it as an excuse why Israel is not making peace with the Arabs who do not want peace.

Do you really think you are helping Israel with these kinds of distortions to the truth?

January 7th, 2009, 6:30 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Bondo!! Where ya been?

Idaf:

Very interesting analysis, and I hope that Syrian-Egyptian relations improve. However, even if you are right about the idea that Syria basically brokered the truce behind the scenes, might one suggest that both Egypt AND Syria have something at stake in calling it an Egyptian initiative?

After all, Israel is not going to give Hamas everything they were asking for. They are not going to completely lift the blockade, it seems. They are going to relax some of the restrictions but there’s no way that Israel is going to make it easier for Hamas to re-arm than it was before the onslaught.

This is good for Syria because they would like everyone to know that they have the back channel to Hamas, while Egypt takes public responsibility for the terms of the ceasefire, which are just as likely to break down again sooner or later.

January 7th, 2009, 6:35 pm

 

Alex said:

Exactly like what happened prior to the Mecca accord between Fatah and Hamas … Syria hosted the two sides for few days, then they flew to the Kingdon of Saudi Arabia where the brilliant king announced “his” agreement a day later.

At the time, the Syrians were told the Saudis will appreciate the help … but htey didn’t.

I think Sarkozy this time promised Bashar that even if Hosni does not reciprocate, he (Sarkozy) will not forget Assad’s cooperation and will show his appreciation at some point in the future.

At the end of the day … what is Hamas’ total list of concessions? … stopping the useless rockets? .. in return for lifting of Israel and Egypt’s siege of Gaza? .. isn’t that what Hamas wanted in the first place?

January 7th, 2009, 6:56 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Several nights ago CNN interviewed a Gaza resident who said 60% (or more) of the residents of Gaza are persons displaced in the 1948 war and their descendents. For those here who are familiar with the demographics of Gaza does this figure seem accurate? If so, is the figure of 1948 dispaced persons and their descendents in the West Bank similar or different?

January 7th, 2009, 7:19 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Akbar,

Because people like you among Likud’s friends can only see what they want to see, we now have a proper poll of Syria Comment’s readers… did you notice it?

Alex,

The last I checked, the Likud is not in power in “Israel”. Barak and Livni are Labor and Kadima, respectively.

Yes, the Left-of-Center have the audacity to not accept indiscriminate missile firings into Israel.

The numbers, before Israel invaded Gaza ad started to murder children, were 72% for Syria to conclude peace talks with Israel even before Israel and the Palestinians reached their final solution… and another 15-20% for Peace with Israel after the Palestinians sign their peace agreement with Israel … about 90% for peace with Israel.

Alex,

Israel “murdered” children before they invaded Gaza. How do you explain the 90%?

Are you saying Arab “rage” is only 2 weeks old?

But of course you are only used to searching and saving examples of cases where some people fail to express their love and admiration to Israel, so that you can use it as an excuse why Israel is not making peace with the Arabs who do not want peace.

Alex,

With all due respect, Professor Josh is disingenuous when he claims:

The consistent line of all authors on SC is to accept 1948 state lines and the acceptance of Israel.

I humbly say, “Bullsxxt!”.

Do you really think you are helping Israel with these kinds of distortions to the truth?

What distortion Alex? Show me a distortion, provide a reference, and I’ll comment.

January 7th, 2009, 7:30 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex said:

Exactly like what happened prior to the Mecca accord between Fatah and Hamas … Syria hosted the two sides for few days, then they flew to the Kingdon of Saudi Arabia where the brilliant king announced “his” agreement a day later.

Alex, it wasn’t just Syria that tried to mediate between Hamas and Fatah before the Saudis succeeded. Egypt had a crack at it too, and they failed.

I think it is more likely that Hamas and its allies were not willing to give Egypt any diplomatic credit, just as Fatah and its allies did not want to reward Syria. So, in the end, after two abortive attempts in Egypt and Syria, they went to Saudi Arabia where the gold Rolexes and silver briefcases came out, and suddenly everyone was kissing each other.

If Syria could have solved the problem, I doubt that Bashar wouldn’t have taken the chance to take his rightful credit for it.

January 7th, 2009, 7:42 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Events are moving swiftly. There are some serious questions, which may have to addressed by politicial figures in the next few weeks. Better that we comment on them here first, because, frankly I think most of us have better minds than most of the politicans who will be involved.
#1: Is there concurrence that Fatah is a casualty of the present conflict and no longer is a legitmate spokesperson for both West Bank and Gaza?
2: Should Hamas fail in the present conflict, who should then speak for the Gaza people and their interests?
#3: If the answer to #1 is yes, who then speaks for the PA?
#4: What should be sought for the people in Gaza in any peace settlement? What should be minimal terms?

In this respect I urge again consideration of the SHUR Working Paper WP#5 Israel-Palestine Field Resarch Report, dated June, 2008. This is a document prepared mostly by Palestinian academics and was linked by another commenter several days ago. it lists the most speficic interests that can, or should, be attained in any future peace settlement.

January 7th, 2009, 7:43 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Akbar humbly said:

“Bullsxxt!”

Akbar, by “SC authors”, I’m pretty sure that Joshua means: himself, Alex, Ehsani, T_Desco, and me.

And as far as I know, we all accept what he is talking about.

January 7th, 2009, 7:47 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

1) Qifa explained to you what “authors” mean… it does not include people leaving comments here.

But If you want us to democratically enforce a pro-Israel point of view on all our commentators then please let us know.

2) You want proof of what?? … look at the poll numbers and forget the before and after if it is complicating your life too much.

TODAY and after all the killing in Gaza, the numbers indicate that 83% of Syria Comment readers (and not authors only) voted for peace negotiations with Israel based on the two state solution.

For God’s sake .. how much clearer do you need it to be?

January 7th, 2009, 8:17 pm

 

Alex said:

Gaza medics describe horror of strike which killed 70
Growing evidence emerged today of the bloodiest single incident of the Gaza conflict when around 70 corpses were found by a Palestinian paramedic near a bombed-out house.

By Tim Butcher in Jerusalem
Last Updated: 5:27PM GMT 07 Jan 2009
Zeitoun – Gaza medics describe horror of strike which killed 70
Palestinians grieve at the funeral of a relative in the Zeitoun neighbourhood in Gaza City Photo: AP

Mohammed Shaheen, a volunteer with Palestinian Red Crescent, was in the first convoy of ambulances to reach the site of the blast in Zeitoun since it was first occupied then shelled by the Israeli army.

His testimony confirmed accounts, first reported in The Telegraph, from survivors of the extended al Samouni clan who said they feared between 60 and 70 family members had been killed.

“Inside the Samouni house I saw about ten bodies and outside another sixty,” Mr Shaheen said.

“I was not able to count them accurately because there was not much time and we were looking for wounded people.

“We found fifteen people still alive but injured so we took them in the ambulances.

“I could see an Israeli army bulldozer knocking down houses nearby but we ran out of time and the Israeli soldiers started shooting at us.

“We had to leave about eight injured people behind because we could not get to them and it was no longer safe for us to stay.” Mr Shaheen was in a convoy led by a jeep from the International Committee of the Red Cross that made its way down war-damaged tracks past demolished houses to the town of Zeitoun.

Concerns had been growing that Zeitoun had witnessed massive civilian casualties after surviving members of the Samouni clan reached Gaza City three days ago.

They said that after the Israeli army first took the town on Saturday night soldiers had ordered about 100 members of the clan to gather in a single house owned by Wael Samouni around dawn on Sunday.

At 6.35am on Monday the house was repeatedly shelled with appalling loss of civilian life.

A handful of survivors, some wounded, others carrying dead or dying infants, made it on foot to Gaza’s main north-south road before they were given lifts to hospital. Three small children were buried in Gaza City that afternoon.

According to the survivors between 60 and 70 family members had been killed by shrapnel and falling masonry.

Convoys of ambulances twice headed to the area to look for wounded but they were driven back by Israeli shooting.

During today’s three hour lull in offensive operations by Israel, the ICRC led the rescue convoy in although it took a long time for the convoy to make its way down war-damaged.

According to Mr Shaheen, the death toll was as high as described by the survivors.

January 7th, 2009, 8:52 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Alex,
I support your comments in #57. May I offer an extension of your “TODAY” observation?
I have never thought the 2 state solution would endure because the Palestine Authority was not viable, economically, politically or geographically. Others have made the same observation here. With the IDF incursion into Gaza the 2 state solution has reached a dead end; hence my questions in #55.
Further, are the interests of those in the West Bank the same as those in Gaza? Maybe but maybe the emphasis differs. This is why I asked about demographics in #52.
I believe Israel will not stop until Hamas calapses. But a calapse of Hamas does not mean the I-P conflict is over. Someone has to step into the political vacuum to represent and negotiate for the Palestinian people. Should that leader then pursue the goals listed in the SHUR Working Paper? If it were me (and it clearly will not be me), I would start with that list but be willing to take what I could get provided what I could get included some or all of the essentials.

January 7th, 2009, 8:53 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Akbar, by “SC authors”…

Qifa Nabki,

cc: Alex, Professor Josh

Qifa Nabki,

Sorry, however your quote conveniently left out the term “all”.

The consistent line of all authors on SC is to accept 1948 state lines and the acceptance of Israel.

I’m pretty sure that Joshua means: himself, Alex, Ehsani, T_Desco, and me.

You’re “pretty sure”? “All” means just the 5 people you mentioned above?

Your english is good, and so I would think in this context you would understand what “all the authors” means. The Good Doctor didn’t say “most” and he didn’t say specifically who.

So to my knowledge, “all of the authors on SC” do NOT accept 1948 state lines. Moreover, I haven’t read very many posts where the “great forces of SC moderation” (those that “accept 1948 state lines”) are trying to convince those who advocate “resistance” to stop, look at the result of resisting, and tp perhaps modify their support to one of tolerance and nation building. That would be asking for too much apparently.

Anyway, that’s what I would think a Co-director of a Center of Peace Studies would advocate. Instead, we get a Syrian Mouthpiece who never speaks about tolerance except that the “US and Israel spoiled Palestine by giving it to the Jews”.

Nice try,

AP

January 7th, 2009, 9:08 pm

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

on the left side column under the poll we have a section called “categories”

please click on it .. then click on “authors”

it will list ALL the authors.

Can you tell me from that list which author wants to throw the Jews in the sea?

January 7th, 2009, 9:19 pm

 

offended said:

And Israel continues to commit crime upon crime against humanity. But there’s no one to stop them.

January 7th, 2009, 9:27 pm

 

Chris said:

Joshua,

I don’t know that SC posters consistently support Israel’s legitimacy.

More importantly though, to answer your question about a final resolution, I support an agreement that all would accept, albeit grudgingly. So, in my view that means, a territorial settlement roughly along he’67 borders. I don’t see how the Palestinian would accept an agreement without a division of Jerusalem. In such an agreement Israel would probably maintain the major settlement blocks. Sari Nusseibeh and others have stated that the contours of what an agreement would look like is pretty clear. It is only a matter of implementing it.

I wasn’t intending to be provacotive.

January 7th, 2009, 9:58 pm

 

idaf said:

Chris,

I would say that after the latest show of brutality, a final resolution would only take place if all Palestinians now say that the 2 states solution is not viable after 60 years of failed attempts and from now on we want to have “unity” with the Israelis in one democratic state where everyone is equal under the law.

If the Palestinians do it effectively enough, then this would have an enormous support by the west. In 5 or 6 year even Obama would be able to support it. A good portion of Israelis would support it as well.

This should scare the a majority if Israelis enough to say: “PLEASE take you own state next to us over the 67 boarders. We promise not to occupy you anymore. But we beg you, anything but unity”!

January 7th, 2009, 10:16 pm

 

Alex said:

FIM

Palestinians in Gaza are different from those in the West Bank … they are poorer, more religious, … closer to Egypt than to Jordan.

But they are Palestinians .. they differ more on HOW TO reach their objectives and less about those objectives.

I think that if Israel and the United States give them enough hope for a genuine will to live in peace with the Palestinians, they will not be electing any extremists the next time they vote.

But I can’t see anything promising in Israel… only a bunch of small, boring, unwise “leaders”

Read what Aluf Benn has to say:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1053429.html

January 7th, 2009, 10:21 pm

 

Peter H said:

Does Akbar Palace know what the difference betweena “authors” and “commenters” are?

What’s the Hebrew word for dense?

January 7th, 2009, 10:22 pm

 

idaf said:

QN you asked:

“Very interesting analysis, and I hope that Syrian-Egyptian relations improve. However, even if you are right about the idea that Syria basically brokered the truce behind the scenes, might one suggest that both Egypt AND Syria have something at stake in calling it an Egyptian initiative?”

I agree. Syria should give this favor to the Egyptians. They will value it highly later on. If this turned out to be a viable end to this conflict, then Syria would have acted extremely smart with and stands geo-political benefits in the coming months.

The Egyptian ambassador is now live on tv from the Security council asking Israel to accept the “Egyptian initiative”. I didn’t see him as happy as he is now since the start of this onslaught on the Palestinians. The guy was grim for the last 10 days being on the defensive for Egypt’s reputation.

Meanwhile, Secretary Rice few hours ago invited the Arab delegation but punished the Qataris and Amr Musa by not inviting them to the meeting!! Syria pre-empted this and boycotted the whole meeting of Arab delegation for the security council and Muallem said it would be “useless to attend”.

January 7th, 2009, 10:38 pm

 

offended said:

This is one of the byproduct of the Israeli aggression at Gaza, Turkish crowd threw a fit of rage and a basketball match was cancelled:

January 7th, 2009, 10:45 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Akbar

Hee hee hee. I love the smell of eggs on faces.

You completely misunderstood Joshua.

And yes, I’m pretty sure about that too. 😉

January 7th, 2009, 10:48 pm

 

idaf said:

One more thing QN,

Syria is good in doing the right thing without seeking credit (Mubarak should be glad to know). for example, it hosted millions of refugees a century without asking for returns. A more recent example, Syrian Red Crescent sent today the third convoy of humanitarian aid, comprised of 15 Lorries, 330 Tonnes including 11 tons of medical, logistic, and food supplies. This now a total of 600 tons of aid to the Palestinians in Gaza and the 4th convoy is in preparation.

Now given that the Israelis do not allow Syrian or Iranian goods to go to the Palestinians, I’m sure that everything is being labeled as “Made in Jordan” to be allowed in by the Israelis to pass to the West Bank and then to Gaza.

January 7th, 2009, 10:55 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Alex –
Thank you for the observation (65) about Gaza and West Bank, and your statement about the need for the west to offer encouragement to the Palestinian people. I have been asking my contacts here in U.S. to recognize the legitimate needs and concerns of the people in Gaza, of which there are many. I will keep it up.

If I were advising the Israelis or the Palestinians, I would suspect the rest of the world is urging a “cease fire” so they will not be disturbed by the I-P conflict. That only postpones what is needed, a more permanent settlement. Serious negotiations which require significant concessions usually are not successful unless there is a pressing need to attain a settlement (I cite the calapse of the Anapolis accords as a recent example). I believe we are at a point of pressing need as I write. Just now the news report from the UN states there will be a negotiating session, in Cairo i think, on Egypt’s settlement proposal. Gaza and the West Bank must represent themselves, and negotiate from a well thought out reasoned position. I wonder if anyone in Hamas has done so and is capable of serious, tense negotiations. Someone here noted there are more PhD’s in Gaza than anywhere else in the world (on a square km basis). If there is a cease fire, maybe they should be drafted. I doubt anyone there has read the SHUR Working Paper.
Please note, I am fully aware the proposals I have been advocating will meet with resistance in some parts of the Israeli society, those who aggressively support more settlements, those who want a “pure” nation and others, but I believe no time in the past 15 years has been as opportune as the present. As always patience will be necessary.

January 7th, 2009, 11:46 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Alex –
The euphoria pint is marvelous. Right on.

If Sadam was told this, he would have lived longer. If George Bush knew this, he would have kept his mouth shut on the aircraft carrier.

January 8th, 2009, 12:00 am

 
 

Alex said:

January 8th, 2009, 2:01 am

 

Alex said:

Israel’s Walid Jumblatt

January 8th, 2009, 2:09 am

 

Shual said:

@ Shai

http://shual.blogspot.com/2009/01/miki.html

I don’t know if it makes sense to comment it. It will be the basis for some other texts in the future.

PS: http://gazanow.wordpress.com/

January 8th, 2009, 2:22 am

 

norman said:

FIA,
It is simple and easy to solve the problems of the Mideast ,

Syria should negotiate with one team for the Palestinians , Lebanese and the Syrians ,

That is the only way for a comprehensive peace agreement that will save Israel and the Plaestinians,

I just hope that the Muslims and Arabs will have enough heart to forgive what Israel has done so far , That will need a lot of work from people like Shai and Rumyal.

January 8th, 2009, 3:45 am

 

Averroes said:

Rumyal,

I acknowledge that what I suggested may be “easy for me to say,” but it is my honest feeling. I further acknowledge that had “we Arabs” had the level of power your country has, we may not have been too different, although I will elaborate a little of that. In fact, the Power question is the essence of my argument: Israel is a country where small men (its leaders) enjoy a power advantage that is too great for their own good. And unless and until that huge advantage is neutralized, any hope of REAL peace is a delusion.

Now, when I say neutralized, I do not mean it in the military sense of the term, which typically means something like “obliterated”. No, what I mean is that unless Israel is in a position that it knows it would pay a huge price for such crimes, these crimes are going to continue, and its leaders (being what they are) will have no motivation to change their ways.

And I’m willing to take this stand both ways. I don’t want to see a huge power advantage on the Arab side either, although I think we may have a slightly better record treating Jews.

What I know for certain, is that for centuries, “we Arabs” lived very well with Jewish co-citizens in many Arab cities and countries. In Damascus, Cairo, Baghdad, Aleppo, as well as in Yemen and Morocco, and of course Al-Andalus, Jews lived quite well under Arab rule. I think you would agree that throughout those centuries, Arabs had a substantial power advantage over Jews throughout the region, and that that advantage was not in the major part abused. I’m not saying that it was perfect but I’m not aware of anything even approaching what Israel is doing with its Days of High.

You seem to portray the average Israeli citizen as being a less informed person than a rural area Arab. While I see where you’re coming from, I think I would disagree to the picture you’re painting. Israelis tend to be better educated and more cosmopolitan than many other countries. Many have dual citizenship and are well connected, well read, and well traveled. To plead ignorance does not strike me as the right diagnosis. Convenience sounds more like it to me.

Rumyal,

A dependence on military muscle for strategic survival is not a sustainable strategy. If I were an Israeli, I think I would know that much.

January 8th, 2009, 4:07 am

 

Rime said:

The Gaza Anthem

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlfhoU66s4Y

We will not go down!

Play it loud, chant it everywhere, let them know that We will not go down!

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools
But our spirit will never die
We will not go down
In Gaza tonight

Please spread it, embed it when you can, and let YouTube and the entire world hear that we will not go down!

“We will not go down (Song for Gaza)” – composed and performed by my extremely talented brother, God bless him.

January 8th, 2009, 4:10 am

 

norman said:

Rime,

Thank you ,

How sad , Israel is killing the Palestinians , The Arabs are begging for a cease fire .

I do not know how long it will take The Arabs to wake up and fight for their rights instead of begging for them.

Abbas has been begging for years and he got nothing , It is time for a change.

January 8th, 2009, 4:38 am

 

Shai said:

Rime,

I was the 125th viewer of the Gaza Anthem – it is truly powerful.

I’m forwarding it to some organizations here:

The Coalition Against the Siege and War in Gaza is composed of various civil society organizations in Israel:
Gush Shalom, Hadash, Yesh Gvul, Balad, New Profile, Combatants for Peace, Alternative Information Center (AIC), Bat Shalom, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), The Democratic Mizrahi Rainbow, Achoti for Women in Israel, Coalition of Women for Peace, Anarchists Against the Wall, the Seniors’ Letter, Women in Black, the Fifth Mother, Left Forum Haifa University, Students Coalition – Tel Aviv University, Campus is Not Silent, Maki, Banki, Tandi, Hadash-Students, Indymedia, Social TV on the Internet, Taayush, Hithabrut-Tarabut, Sadaka Reut.

January 8th, 2009, 5:24 am

 

Innocent Criminal said:

I am not sure if someone has already posted this but here is an article where: Tony Badran, Tom Dine, Martin Indyk, Joshua Landis, Moshe Ma’oz, Michael Oren, David Schenker and Andrew Tabler—weigh in on whether Syria matters.

http://momentmag.com/Exclusive/2009/2009-02/200902-Syria.html

January 8th, 2009, 5:51 am

 

Alex said:

IC,

My favorite quote was from the permanently angry Tony Badran:

1) Tony Badran, research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, Washington, DC

Does Syria matter?
Syria is a spoiler. Unlike the Saudis, who have money, or the Lebanese, who have excellent education and human resources that they export to the Gulf, the Syrians have no economy, no natural resources. Their society is in shambles.

2) Michael Oren, senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and visiting professor of Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Does Syria matter?
Syria is a very big country, has tremendous prestige in the Arab world and maintains a large army. For 1,000 years, Damascus has been a center of Arab identity.

January 8th, 2009, 6:50 am

 

Rumyal said:

Dear Averroes,

I noticed that you quoted me saying “you Arabs” as if I said something that is insulting. That was definitely not my intent, I just meant to refer to the collective of Arabs that I converse with here on this blog. I have great respect for Arabs and I’m at least a little bit Arab myself. If I hit a soft spot do let me know, I can avoid it in the future. Maybe it does sound “accusative”, sorry about that.

I agree with your astute analysis on how power has been destructive for my country. Some humiliations may bring some humility to Israel. But here’s a proof again for our insecurity: when you say “defeated”, the images that pass in my head are of total extermination, I don’t think 1973 or 2006 type of defeat. I think 1942. With all the nukes and stuff, why would I feel so insecure? (Not whining or asking for sympathy, just mentioning a fact.)

I know very well that Jews prospered under Islam. My family has probably been in Iraq for about 2500 years, as most Iraqi Jews were there since the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BC. I can trace my lineage at least until the 16th century. They were successful and lived a happy life until the rise of nationalism (Zionism and Arab nationalism in Iraq). Then they had to leave in disgrace. My grandfather died shortly after that, probably from stress, I never had the chance to meet him. Still, for the Arab world to tolerate a “Crusader” country will be more difficult than tolerating a subordinate minority. I wonder how much Israel would have to change in order to be tolerated, I had some discussions with the folks here about this in the past. I have no illusions that in its current form with the racist laws and everything it does, Israel cannot and it will not be tolerated, so many things have to change, that’s for sure.

I both agree and disagree about the Israeli ignorance vs. convenience; I may have overstated the point. On the one hand, it definitely is convenient to live in denial, because that protects the imagined moral high-ground of the person who wouldn’t face the truth. On the other hand, look at the Americans, they are not less educated than the Israelis and still they can be easily brain-washed. As another indication supporting my point consider that some Syrian individuals here will never acknowledge the faults of their regime, what are we to assume about their ability to excuse the regime had they been Israeli? So whatever unique conditions hold in Israel that induce this mass psychosis and violent behavior, it is unrealistic to assume that had you lived there you would necessarily be the “odd man out” in condemning the regime and the society. If we were riding with Genghis-Khan, I guess we would all pillage and rape as a pass-time. These are just the realities of human nature. Where is Alia to educate us about primate behavior…

Anyway, too many words around semantics. You and I share the same opinions except for little details. What I wanted to say was just that it’s useful to put yourself in the shoes of the other person…

January 8th, 2009, 7:43 am

 

Rumyal said:

Peter H,

The Hebrew word for dense is “tzafuf” but when we want to say that somebody is dense we say that he’s “hard” (kashé) or a “shoe” (“na’al”).

Akbar,

You are very tiring. It may be a good idea to stop for a while and ponder some very basic questions. Israel drove out about 700,000 of Palestine’s inhabitants in 48. You know that, right? It has never acknowledged its responsibility and didn’t offer any type of solution, quite the contrary, right? Given *just this*, the fact that many Arabs are willing to accept Israel on a very accommodating terms is quite generous. So in this time when Israel murders children, instead of whining like a baby “I know that you’re lying and you don’t really love me… wah wah…” just shut up and stop for a second to ruminate on your positions.

You quote observer saying “What a pity that the Russian Jewish delegation in 1905 insisted that Palestine be the homeland of the new Jewish state when the other delegations were quite open to having the state be in South America or Australia” as if he said something unacceptable.

Consider this: what a pity that the Germans killed my family. I will still be willing to make amends with them. Get it?

This was written for you Akbar…

http://www.counterpunch.com/makdisi01072009.html

Despite the Bloodshed, Israel is Failing
What Kind of Security Will This Barbarism Bring Israel?
By SAREE MAKDISI
… Indeed, it seems clear that the writing now being posted on alternative media outlets is also starting to outweigh the clumsy efforts still being churned out by America’s army of paid and unpaid cheerleaders for Israel, who have forsaken what little remained of their own humanity and blinded themselves to suffering that ought to move any rational, caring, sentient human being to tears—the Dershowitzes and Foxmans, the Orens and Boots, the Krauthammers and Peretzes, the Bards and Goldfarbs, the cynical apparatchiks of CAMERA and AIPAC and the mindless busybodies and shuffling zombies of Stand With Us, the Israel Project and the Israel on Campus Coalition—who persist with their stubborn, craven defense of the indefensible. About these misanthropes there is much to be said, most of it too unpleasant to print, so I’ll shift the burden here to those memorable closing lines of Wilfred Owen’s war poem “Insensibility:”
But cursed are dullards whom no cannon stuns,
That they should be as stones.
Wretched are they, and mean
With paucity that never was simplicity.
By choice they made themselves immune
To pity and whatever mourns in man
Before the last sea and the hapless stars;
Whatever mourns when many leave these shores;
Whatever shares
The eternal reciprocity of tears.”…

Search your soul Akbar, you have become a little apparatchik in the hands of very cynical forces. I know you’re not a bad person, you must open your eyes and heart.

January 8th, 2009, 8:24 am

 

Chris said:

I’ve also heard that Richard Holbrooke will be the new Middle East envoy.

January 8th, 2009, 8:31 am

 

Rumyal said:

Yossi, (from #1. Yossi’s are always #1… Yossi Beilin, Yossi Sarid and a few others…)

Good to have you here, come again, we need to convince our brothers here that we are not all bloodthirsty and we want to live together in peace.

January 8th, 2009, 8:34 am

 

Alex said:

At least three Lebanon rockets hit north Israel; IDF responds with shells

By Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service

At least three Katyusha rockets fired from south Lebanon exploded in northern Israel early Thursday morning, leaving two people lightly wounded and a number of others suffering from shock.

Israel Defense Forces troops immediately fired five artillery shells at Lebanon in response to the rockets, an Israeli security source said.

A military spokesman said Israel aimed “a pinpoint response at the source of fire.”

This was the first time a Katyusha fired from Lebanon struck Israeli territory since the Israel Air Force began its offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on December 27.

Residents of the western Galilee on Wednesday reported that between three to five rockets hit their communities, with one falling near Nahariya.

At least one of the rockets hit next to an old-age home in Nahariya, according to Channel 10. One person was wounded from shards of glass which exploded from the shrapnel.

January 8th, 2009, 8:48 am

 
 

Rumyal said:

Alex (#74, 75),

Your Evil Dictator gave a very convincing presentation, almost without any spins. The leaders of the West world including our Nobel laureate speaks in slogans and lies… terror… terroristic… we wanted to negotiate… blah…

January 8th, 2009, 8:53 am

 

Alex said:

Rumyal,

Yes .. he said Hamas was “brutal” …. I wonder how he would describe his army’s fun exercise in Gaza.

And he lied again .. he said they bombed hte school in Gaza because there were Hamas fighters shooting from inside the school.

Hopefully one day we will have a Yosssi for President instead of this wonderful Nobel laureate.

January 8th, 2009, 9:21 am

 

Alex said:

Obama picks Ross as Mideast envoy

By Daniel Dombey in Washington

Published: January 8 2009 01:19 | Last updated: January 8 2009 01:19

Dennis Ross, a former top diplomat for the George H W Bush and Clinton administrations, will become the Obama administration’s top envoy on the Middle East, an internal email from Mr Ross’s current employer has revealed.

Mr Ross, who previously served as the US envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is set to take a wider role as Hillary Clinton’s top adviser for the Middle East as a whole. Ms Clinton herself is due to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for her confirmation hearing for Secretary of State next Tuesday.

Executives at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the think-tank where Mr Ross works, told the organisation’s board that Mr Ross had “accepted an invitation to join the Obama administration as ambassador-at-large” in a job “designed especially for him,” covering a range of issues from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to Iran.

The email, first reported by Chris Nelson, a Washington-based foreign policy expert, adds that Mr Ross “will not reprise his previous role as special Arab-Israeli peace envoy, a post that will be held by someone else; rather he will be working closely with both the special envoy and the secretary.”

Mr Ross is likely to strike a high profile in his new job, particularly given the current Gaza conflict and mounting fears about Iran’s nuclear capacity. He served as an adviser on the Middle East to president-elect Barack Obama during the election campaign, calling for bigger carrots and bigger sticks to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons capacity.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, a news organisation, reported this week that Mr Ross told a meeting at a synagogue this week that if Hamas had ”the capability to rearm” the current conflict would serve as “just a prelude” to the next round.

The agency reported that Mr Ross said achieving an Israeli-Palestinian agreement would now be harder than the previous attempt with which he was involved in 2000, partly because the Israeli public did not believe such an agreement was possible.

However people close to Mr Ross maintain he was volunteering more of a description of Israeli thinking than an analysis of the US position on the conflict.

The incoming Obama administration is expected to appoint a number of special envoys, likely to include Richard Holbrooke, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, who is expected to cover issues including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

January 8th, 2009, 9:26 am

 

Innocent Criminal said:

Alex,

I forgot to add my comment about that dork Badran. He’s comments were more negative than former AIPAC and Israeli experts. the guy’s blind hate and lack of professionalism has made him insignificant and irrelevant

bad news about Ross. we can safely say that Obama has bent backwards to please the Israeli lobby.

January 8th, 2009, 9:32 am

 
 

Akbar Palace said:

Responding to Rumyal:

Akbar,

You are very tiring.

So don’t read my posts and go to sleep. Actually, I’ve received quite a few responses saying my posts were original and thought-provoking.

It may be a good idea to stop for a while and ponder some very basic questions. Israel drove out about 700,000 of Palestine’s inhabitants in 48. You know that, right?

Rumyal,

No, I didn’t know “Israel drove out about 700,000 palestinian inhabitants in 48”. But if you want to simplify the argument to say the Israel “drove” them out, go right ahead.

A LARGE percentage of Arabs left their homes on their own, without anyone dragging them out. A LARGE percentage stayed in their homes, which is why 20% of of Israelis are Arab. A LARGE percentage of Palestinians were driven from their homes as well. Add them up and you get 100%.

Considering the dire situation Israel was in (5 arab armies attacked after they rejected the Partition Plan), I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it. Of course, that was 60 years ago, so I’m not sure why you’re bringing this up now.

It has never acknowledged its responsibility and didn’t offer any type of solution, quite the contrary, right?

The UN offered a “type of solution”. The Arabs rejected it Rumyal.

At Camp David 2000, the US proposed a “solution” that Israel agreed to work with and Yassir Arafat rejected.

But you’re free to propose whatever you’d like.

Given *just this*, the fact that many Arabs are willing to accept Israel on a very accommodating terms is quite generous.

Rumyal,

I don’t want to bore you, but can you tell me WHICH Arabs are “willing to accept Israel”? Alex? Qifa Napkin? Hamas? Hezbollah? And do you trust their “cease fire” once Israel goes to the borders they recommend?

So in this time when Israel murders children, instead of whining like a baby “I know that you’re lying and you don’t really love me… wah wah…” just shut up and stop for a second to ruminate on your positions.

Israel has not “murdered” any children. Especially when the Hamas “fighters” fire missiles in the middle of population centers.

http://israelisoldiersmother.blogspot.com/

You quote observer saying “What a pity that the Russian Jewish delegation in 1905 insisted that Palestine be the homeland of the new Jewish state when the other delegations were quite open to having the state be in South America or Australia” as if he said something unacceptable.

What Observer is saying isn’t unacceptable to me. I’m used to reading the whiners here on this forum. I pointed it out, because most of the posters on this forum still can’t accept a Jewish state despite your claims that they do.

This was written for you Akbar…

Sorry, I don’t read anything from the anti-Israel website “Counterpunch”. It puts me to sleep…

January 8th, 2009, 12:08 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai,

I noticed you found several “peace organizations” in Israel. Proof once again of how tolerant Israelis are:

The Coalition Against the Siege and War in Gaza is composed of various civil society organizations in Israel:
Gush Shalom, Hadash, Yesh Gvul, Balad, New Profile, Combatants for Peace, Alternative Information Center (AIC), Bat Shalom, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), The Democratic Mizrahi Rainbow, Achoti for Women in Israel, Coalition of Women for Peace, Anarchists Against the Wall, the Seniors’ Letter, Women in Black, the Fifth Mother, Left Forum Haifa University, Students Coalition – Tel Aviv University, Campus is Not Silent, Maki, Banki, Tandi, Hadash-Students, Indymedia, Social TV on the Internet, Taayush, Hithabrut-Tarabut, Sadaka Reut.

My question to you is rather simple:

Although you and no one else on this forum discusses the impact of Gazan missiles being fired into Israel indiscriminately, what have the above organizations done to prevent attacks on Israel?

Considering the War in Lebanon has kept the Northern border fairly quiet these past 2+ years, I’d say the IDF has a better track-record than Israel peace-niks and the Yaffe Nefesh crowd.

January 8th, 2009, 12:24 pm

 

offended said:

I hope the events of the last two weeks serve to remind us of the futility to have a singular peace agreement between Syria and Israel without first correcting the injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people ONCE AND FOR ALL.

I can only imagine how bitter and resentful it must feel to be Egyptian or Jordanian at these times.

January 8th, 2009, 12:42 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

…without first correcting the injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people ONCE AND FOR ALL.

Offended,

I agree. I wish we could go back to the days where the Palestinians could fire missiles into Israel without Israel doing anything about it.

Life just isn’t fair…(~sigh~)

January 8th, 2009, 12:49 pm

 

offended said:

Akbar Palace, stop trolling.

January 8th, 2009, 1:06 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar: “I’d say the IDF has a better track-record than Israel peace-niks and the Yaffe Nefesh crowd.”

It certainly does. And the kind of “track record” that has done everything but bring us peace. No, the IDF isn’t “murdering” children – it’s “putting them to sleep”, permanently, out of self-defense. Tell me, Akbar, since I’m sure you put yourself in your enemy’s shoes day and night in order to understand him, what would you personally do (let’s say you were a soldier) if you knew a bearded man with a gun was hiding in a house in front of you, and in the house there were 5 little kids, a young woman, and her mother? I know you’ve often said here that you “don’t lose any sleep” over such things, but try to stay awake for a minute, just long enough to consider this “dilemma” (as if there’s a dilemma there). What would you do, Akbar, hit the house or not? If you don’t, this man might come out and shoot at your buddies around you, or at you. If you do, you’re likely to kill those innocent people. It’s a tough one, Akbar? No, its not.

Courage is not only displayed through use of power (when “enough is enough”), but indeed also through an unending search for nonviolent solutions. To find these solutions, one must also be willing and capable of putting himself in others’ shoes, and looking at himself through their eyes, and understanding why they do what they do, with their rationale, not yours. If you truly had this ability, and exercised it, you would not so quickly reject harsh criticism against Israel, you would not dismiss the notion that the IDF can murder little children, and you would not fear true self-introspection (although not yours to do, you’re not an Israeli) into the deeper conclusions of what stands behind Israeli “defensive” behavior over the past 60 years.

Not everything my country did since 1948 is evil. And certainly not everything the Arabs around us have done since 1948 is just. But to turn a blind eye to ongoing criminal behavior, to racism, to controlling the fate of nearly 4 million people who enjoy none of the freedoms we do, and deserve nothing more than you or I do (but also nothing less), and to continue to blame the weak for Israel’s wrongdoing is, in my mind, a great demonstration of inhumanity.

You can’t claim that Israel is “tolerant” by quoting the few peace organizations I mentioned up above and, in the same breath, hail the IDF as “having a better track-record…” Your inability to “lose any sleep” is precisely what causes you to call the killing of 700 and injuring of 3000, “tolerance”. As you know, in the Jewish tradition for 7 days after someone dies, we sometimes cover all the mirrors in the mourning family’s house, so that they can focus on the deceased and not on themselves. It’s time to take the covers off, Akbar, and to start looking in those mirrors. You may not like what you see, but if you want Israel to survive another 60 years, it’s time to acknowledge reality, and to change it.

January 8th, 2009, 1:33 pm

 

norman said:

Rumyal,

Thank you , There are still good people,

January 8th, 2009, 1:34 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

But to turn a blind eye to ongoing criminal behavior, to racism…

Shai,

But I haven’t. In fact, I’m the lone person here discussing the criminality of fighting from the middle of the civilian population as well as the anti-semitism throughout the Arab media.

If you ask me, “the blind eye” comes from the chorus of the pro-Hamas, Syria Comment crowd and their fearless Co-director, Center of “Peace Studies”.

Shai,

I’m sorry to disappoint you. Your ideologues had their chance to make peace (Meretz, Labor, Aloni, Beilin, Dayan, Sarid) and it was all a mirage.

January 8th, 2009, 1:49 pm

 

offended said:

The Red Cross accuses Israel of failing to help wounded civilians in Gaza, after finding children clinging to their mothers’ corpses.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/2/hi/middle_east/7817926.stm

January 8th, 2009, 1:54 pm

 

Chris said:

Alex,

The NYTimes affirms your earlier post about Dennis Ross, he will be the U.S.’ man for Iran. From the NYTimes:

Dennis B. Ross, a veteran of Middle East peace negotiations in the Clinton and the first Bush administrations, is set to take over a portfolio focused on Iran, officials said. His job would not be called special envoy, given the lack of diplomatic ties between the United States and Iran.
( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/us/politics/08diplo.html?scp=9&sq=hillary%20clinton&st=cse )

As far as Richard Holbrooke is concerned the NYTimes is placing him as the likely candidate as the U.S. envoy to India and Pakistan:

While Mr. Obama has not signed off on these positions, according to officials, Mrs. Clinton is likely to name Richard C. Holbrooke, a longtime diplomat who brokered the Dayton accord that brought peace to Bosnia, as a special envoy to Pakistan and India, said people who have been told of the decision.
( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/us/politics/08diplo.html?scp=9&sq=hillary%20clinton&st=cse )

And now for the grand finale, the prognosticators at the NYTimes are putting there money on either Richard Haass or Daniel Kurtzer. In their words:

With the deepening crisis in Gaza, Mrs. Clinton may also name a special envoy for Arab-Israeli issues. Richard N. Haass, a former State Department official in the Bush administration, and Daniel C. Kurtzer, who served as United States ambassador to Israel and Egypt, have both been mentioned.

Mr. Haass, who is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said he was flattered by the attention but had not been approached, according to his spokeswoman. Mr. Holbrooke did not reply to requests for comment, while Mr. Ross and Mr. Kurtzer declined to comment.
( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/us/politics/08diplo.html?scp=9&sq=hillary%20clinton&st=cse )

Now since the NYTimes is not being definitive about either Haass or Kurtzer I must again say that I’d heard from a well placed and highly regarded academic two nights ago that Richard Holbrooke will be picked as Middle East envoy.

We’ll see!

January 8th, 2009, 2:00 pm

 

Alex said:

Chris
It seems Hillary Clinton is assembling a team that is very AIPAC and Likud friendly. But hiring Ross as special envoy for the Middle East is not easy.

Denis Ross is tactically boycotted in Syria, if they appoint him to anything dealing directly with Syria then he will stay in Washington, or he can continue the fine diplomacy of the Bush administration for the next 4 or 8 years, why not.

January 8th, 2009, 4:08 pm

 

idaf said:

Shai, Rumyal,

I just want to say that you are doing your people an invaluable and severely underappreciated service that no one else (other than peace-loving Israelis) can deliver.

Forget your accurate understanding and rightful pursuit of the strategic interest of Israel in peace and coexistence. That’s just your patriotism. More importantly, people like Akbar owe you an enormous debt of gratitude beyond that.. I lost count of how many times in the past months I referred to your posts both simpleminded Arabs and non-Arabs (who emotionally but ignorantly are pushed to the verge of anti-Semitism whenever one of Israel’s numerous brutal onslaught is on display) as evidence that “Jews are not like that”.

Your words have a magical healing effect on these understandably enraged people that serve to put the blame back where it belongs.. on the Israeli warmongers.

The more your country produce people like you the better life people like Akbar would have, even if they do not appreciate it.

January 8th, 2009, 4:13 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Rumyal and Shai

I am still incapable of overcoming my anger, but I just want to say, thank you both. Keep up the good work and I hope to join the posting soon again. At this point in time, it has become abovious that the IDF is out for murder, press is still not allowed in, and the world has lost its ability for rage.

This electioneering war illustrates that things can not continue as they are. Something really serious must be done.

January 8th, 2009, 4:24 pm

 

Yossi said:

The international community is silent because they view this massacre as a war between Israel and an Iranian proxy. Encouraged by this silence Israel exposes its true face. There is a tiny, if any, security benefit in crushing Gaza. Hamas offered ceasefires all along and its primitive rockets could be intercepted by a system based on the Phalanx canon that the Israeli MoD refuses to deploy.

Why do the Israelis crush Gaza and with such enthusiasm? As an Israeli the answer is clear to me, it’s because people here love it when Arabs are killed. Politicians who manage to do it with minimal Israeli casualties are admired and their way is paved.

New historical revelations teach us that the Arab states didn’t seek wars with Israel. When such wars were provoked Israel usually won due to Arab lack of motivation, Israeli soldiers fear of genocide and having more and better arms.

I don’t think this situation will prevail for long. Non-Arab Muslim nations who really know how to fight are slowly joining the scene. First Iran, then Iraq, Turkey, maybe Pakistan. A US bogged down by a trillion dollar deficit a year wouldn’t be able to support a huge war machine nor those of its allies. The regional balance of power will shift and this combined with the internal disintegration of Israeli society will end the current state.

So why the Israelis do their best now to justify their bad name? I think this is their way to bolster their courage. They call this “deterrence” but it’s actually all in their heads.

Another reason is to test Obama. Can he really change the direction of US policy or only talk? Half confident in their power they perform the opposite of his expected policy and wait to see his reaction. They’re effectively taunting:

Nigger Nigger
Sissy teacher
Nigger Nigger
Mine is bigger

I think Obama understands he is being challenged. What his reaction will be? I don’t know. He was elected to pick the pieces of a crumbling empire and mend it. Is it possible?

January 8th, 2009, 4:36 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Forget the leaders, go after the pilots, the soliders, and the low ranking officers.

Calls for trials of Israeli leadership will get us no where. What is required is to make every Israeli citizen concerned about serving in the army or the air force. Refusing to fight for humanitarian reasons is honorable and luadable but it would get no where, what should be done is to publish the names of every Israeli pilot, and for that matter every american, british, and australian pilot who contributed to the murders of tens of thousand of Iraqis with the banner saying “Wanted for War Crime” along with a list of the names of all of their victims and the age of the victims, the location of the crime and the murder weapon. I It must become personal, and murderers must be held accountable. If you are willing to participate in agression, you must be held accountable. When the US began treating vietnam soldiers for what the were, participants in an illegal crime, the war ended, and without similar change of paradigm in Israel things will not change. This of course goes both ways, as the other side must also learn to shun those advocating for reciprocal murder. Without pilots, willing to murder innocent civilians, war mongers will only be replaced by another gang and the cycle will continue. There is much symoblism of making it hard for Sharon to travel abraod, but it should be as hard for any Israeli pilot, captain, and soldier, who participated in the war on lebanon and in the current war on Gaza to travel anywhere outside Israel, as long as long as Israel continue to use the army for agression and as long as members of these forces are willing to participate in agression. These names must be made available to every human resources office an large and small companies as well with a warning not to hire war criminals when they take off the soldier uniform.

Rational beings are able to distinguish betweem legitimate defense and ethnic cleansing. This may seem naive, and from where I stand, every participant in these war crimes should be held accountable. We learned that during the nuremberg trials and we should, as advocate for non-violense face the reality, even if it causes us to confront members of our family. Only when the masses stop calling murderers heros, and call them for what they are, things may begin to change. It can be a big controversial project. But for now, it seems to be the only way those “heroes” can be given the opportunity to pause and think.

You can not take a country to trial, but when we can teach everyone to stop worshiping war criminals and start holding them accountable, we may have a chance. We should rob them of respectability and of any opportunity to benefit from their crimes.

January 8th, 2009, 5:04 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Yossi says:

So why the Israelis do their best now to justify their bad name?

Yossi, I am not aware of their bad name. Neither are most Americans, especially those Americans who never understood why Israel has to accept thousands of rockets into her territory for years without responding forcefully.

Other than that, your post was excellent, as it met the strictest anti-Israel sentiment so vital on this website.

January 8th, 2009, 6:10 pm

 

offended said:

Another self-hating Jew. There are many of them, you know.

‘bokhim ve-yorim’

“As always, mighty Israel claims to be the victim of Palestinian aggression but the sheer asymmetry of power between the two sides leaves little room for doubt as to who is the real victim. This is indeed a conflict between David and Goliath but the Biblical image has been inverted – a small and defenceless Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless and overbearing Israeli Goliath. The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness. In Hebrew this is known as the syndrome of bokhim ve-yorim, “crying and shooting”.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-israel-palestine

January 8th, 2009, 6:50 pm

 

Averroes said:

Rumyal,

I did not take your earlier writings as hostile. I’ve been reading your posts for a while and I know we have a good common ground.

Unfortunately, I think the huge success that organizations like AIPAC have had in the US will prevent Israel from learning the right lessons, if we can call them that. Israel’s reply to 2006 is, as usual, more of the same: More bombs, more violence, more killing … maybe the Arabs will get the message.

January 8th, 2009, 7:19 pm

 

Shai said:

IDAF, OTW,

Thank you for those words, they mean a lot to me, and I’m sure to Rumyal as well. These past 13 days have been the worst I can recall, perhaps ever. What my country’s leadership has decided to do, and the blanket support they receive from the entire political spectrum in Israel, have brought upon me, and all other peace-loving Israelis, the greatest shame. Most of my life I’ve walked with my head held high, proud of being an Israeli. After these two horrific weeks, I can no longer say that. I hope that, too, will change.

I must tell you that aside from noticing the unbelievable courage those poor Palestinians are exhibiting, I am also aware of the courage displayed by some of you here, on SC, in still accepting me as an Israeli on your forum. I don’t take that for granted and, in a way, I’m surprised. But do know that your words of acceptance give me strength, and hope, and the knowledge that my pursuit of peace must not succumb to the personal shame I feel at the moment. It is because of you, that I have come here in the first place, and it is because of you, that I must continue to fight for what I believe so strongly in – that Jews and Arabs can and must learn to live with one another, equally, respectfully, and in peace.

Offended,

Barely an hour ago, I said to my wife that Israel absolutely has the right to still consider itself in a David-vs.-Goliath state of conflict. Except, that we’re no longer David…

January 8th, 2009, 7:23 pm

 

offended said:

Shai,
Although long, professor Avi Shlaim’s article is an EXCELLENT synopsis of the history of the conflict. I really wanted to post it all here, but then it’s too long for the forum, so instead I invite you all to read it from the Guardian’s website!

By the way, I was told long time ago by a wise old english man that for every saying in a language or a culture, there’s an equivalent saying in every other culture; so ‘bokhim ve-yorim’ in arabic would be:
‘darabni we baka, saba’ni we ishtaka’ (he hit me and cried, ran ahead of me and complained)

January 8th, 2009, 7:40 pm

 

Rumyal said:

Idaf, OTW,

Shai expresses my feelings very well. My wife and I have also been going through difficult days.

Thank you for your encouraging words. You can imagine that it’s sometimes a very testing balancing act to remain patriotic when you so vehemently disagree with your country’s policies and the behavior of your countrymen.

It is also difficult sometimes to find the way to bring criticism forward on the Palestinian side, given the current circumstances, but if we don’t do that, the discussion ceases to be rooted in reality.

It is our responsibility to “channel” to you how the people in Israel feel and give any reasonable explanation for their behavior. After all we are here to promote understanding, not hatred. If objectively I can defend or explain an Israeli position I will do so, even though like I said this is becoming more and more difficult.

January 8th, 2009, 7:48 pm

 

offended said:

“An Unnecessary War

By Jimmy Carter
Thursday, January 8, 2009; A15

I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided.

After visiting Sderot last April and seeing the serious psychological damage caused by the rockets that had fallen in that area, my wife, Rosalynn, and I declared their launching from Gaza to be inexcusable and an act of terrorism. Although casualties were rare (three deaths in seven years), the town was traumatized by the unpredictable explosions. About 3,000 residents had moved to other communities, and the streets, playgrounds and shopping centers were almost empty. Mayor Eli Moyal assembled a group of citizens in his office to meet us and complained that the government of Israel was not stopping the rockets, either through diplomacy or military action.

Knowing that we would soon be seeing Hamas leaders from Gaza and also in Damascus, we promised to assess prospects for a cease-fire. From Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who was negotiating between the Israelis and Hamas, we learned that there was a fundamental difference between the two sides. Hamas wanted a comprehensive cease-fire in both the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israelis refused to discuss anything other than Gaza.

We knew that the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza were being starved, as the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food had found that acute malnutrition in Gaza was on the same scale as in the poorest nations in the southern Sahara, with more than half of all Palestinian families eating only one meal a day.

Palestinian leaders from Gaza were noncommittal on all issues, claiming that rockets were the only way to respond to their imprisonment and to dramatize their humanitarian plight. The top Hamas leaders in Damascus, however, agreed to consider a cease-fire in Gaza only, provided Israel would not attack Gaza and would permit normal humanitarian supplies to be delivered to Palestinian citizens.

After extended discussions with those from Gaza, these Hamas leaders also agreed to accept any peace agreement that might be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the PLO, provided it was approved by a majority vote of Palestinians in a referendum or by an elected unity government.

Since we were only observers, and not negotiators, we relayed this information to the Egyptians, and they pursued the cease-fire proposal. After about a month, the Egyptians and Hamas informed us that all military action by both sides and all rocket firing would stop on June 19, for a period of six months, and that humanitarian supplies would be restored to the normal level that had existed before Israel’s withdrawal in 2005 (about 700 trucks daily).

We were unable to confirm this in Jerusalem because of Israel’s unwillingness to admit to any negotiations with Hamas, but rocket firing was soon stopped and there was an increase in supplies of food, water, medicine and fuel. Yet the increase was to an average of about 20 percent of normal levels. And this fragile truce was partially broken on Nov. 4, when Israel launched an attack in Gaza to destroy a defensive tunnel being dug by Hamas inside the wall that encloses Gaza.

On another visit to Syria in mid-December, I made an effort for the impending six-month deadline to be extended. It was clear that the preeminent issue was opening the crossings into Gaza. Representatives from the Carter Center visited Jerusalem, met with Israeli officials and asked if this was possible in exchange for a cessation of rocket fire. The Israeli government informally proposed that 15 percent of normal supplies might be possible if Hamas first stopped all rocket fire for 48 hours. This was unacceptable to Hamas, and hostilities erupted.

After 12 days of “combat,” the Israeli Defense Forces reported that more than 1,000 targets were shelled or bombed. During that time, Israel rejected international efforts to obtain a cease-fire, with full support from Washington. Seventeen mosques, the American International School, many private homes and much of the basic infrastructure of the small but heavily populated area have been destroyed. This includes the systems that provide water, electricity and sanitation. Heavy civilian casualties are being reported by courageous medical volunteers from many nations, as the fortunate ones operate on the wounded by light from diesel-powered generators.

The hope is that when further hostilities are no longer productive, Israel, Hamas and the United States will accept another cease-fire, at which time the rockets will again stop and an adequate level of humanitarian supplies will be permitted to the surviving Palestinians, with the publicized agreement monitored by the international community. The next possible step: a permanent and comprehensive peace.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/07/AR2009010702645_pf.html

————————————————–

15% for god’s sake? 15 % of normal supplies? and you tell me this is not an attitude of a slavemaster?

This whole effing war was hinged upon the percentage of normal human supplies? why couldn’t israel be a bit more generous and offer a little more than 15%? maybe 50% could have done it? i bet the rations of food at the Gulags were better….

Shame…

January 8th, 2009, 8:07 pm

 

Rumyal said:

Averroes/Ibn Rushd the wise…

Yeah AIPAC is powerful and instrumental for Israel and therefore the most important battle ground in terms of pressuring Israel is in Jewish America. I still don’t know whether the alternative Jewish groups pose any threat to AIPAC’s image, but I hope so. When I think about AIPAC I see people in their 60’s+ I have a feeling that the upcoming political power of next generations is going to be much more leaning towards the liberal side.

January 8th, 2009, 9:35 pm

 

Alex said:

Rumyal, I’m afraid we will have to wait a bit longer … I see a lot of members with very healthy black (and blond) hair … probably their median age is 40

January 8th, 2009, 10:47 pm

 

Rumyal said:

To Akbar,

>>>> Rumyal: Akbar, You are very tiring.
>>>> Akbar: So don’t read my posts and go to sleep. Actually, I’ve received quite a few responses saying my posts were original and thought-provoking.

Akbar, your posts are not thought provoking at all, they are nothing but one line quips that never raise to any challenge that is brought to you. A commercial for toothpaste is more thought provoking. You speak out of great ignorance and you cause your people damage with you infantile misconceptions about history and current affairs. You are VERY tiring, and it’s an unpleasant task to answer you. Just that you know.

>>>> Akbar: No, I didn’t know “Israel drove out about 700,000 palestinian inhabitants in 48″. But if you want to simplify the argument to say the Israel “drove” them out, go right ahead.

OK, I will “go ahead” and do that. You can also go ahead and read some history, there were some very professional books written about 48 over the last 20 years by Israel historians. Before you dismiss them as “propaganda” or self-hating, consider that there was no refutation of their thesis published by any other historian, Israeli or other. The only response is books like “the case for Israel” which do not deal with historic records in a very disciplined manner. So if you really want to approach your activities here from the vantage point of actual knowledge, I suggest you start reading.

>>> Akbar: A LARGE percentage of Arabs left their homes on their own, without anyone dragging them out. A LARGE percentage stayed in their homes, which is why 20% of of Israelis are Arab. A LARGE percentage of Palestinians were driven from their homes as well. Add them up and you get 100%.

The 100% I’m talking about are the 700,00 that left their homes either voluntarily or non-voluntarily and were never allowed to return. If you want to talk about the fate of the Arabs who stayed put we can do this some other time.

>>>> Akbar: Considering the dire situation Israel was in (5 arab armies attacked after they rejected the Partition Plan), I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it. Of course, that was 60 years ago, so I’m not sure why you’re bringing this up now.

Do you know anything about the history of Ashkelon? It was an Arab town before 48 called Majdal. Most residents “left” in 48 but some stayed behind. The government debated for a few years what to do them. Then at the early 50’s they put them on buses and sent them packing to Gaza. Have you heard of the Yabné refugee camp in Gaza? You want to take a guess where they came from? From what is now the Israeli town of Yavné.

What makes 48 relevant is that it was never defused. Those refugees are still stuck in refugee camps in abject state in Gaza so until you fix that, there will be no peace. Maybe if Gaza was Bahrain then they would have forgotten their losses but since they don’t have a future, they cannot give up their past.

What also makes it relevant is that international law required Israel to admit them back and UN resolution 194 has enforced that.

>>>> Akbar: The UN offered a “type of solution”. The Arabs rejected it Rumyal.

While it was definitely short-sighted of them to reject the partition plan of 1947 in realistic terms, I can definitely justify their position in moral terms. Nobody asked the inhabitants of the country whether they wished to share it and under what conditions, it was foisted upon them by the colonial powers and they had all the reasons in the world to reject this colonization. The fact that the Arabs now (and for a long time already…) are willing to make peace is not because they recognize that their position was immoral but because they are willing to give up in order to secure the present and the future of the region. The fact that this seems all too complicated to you to comprehend means you should probably stay out of commentary.

>>>> Rumyal: Given *just this*, the fact that many Arabs are willing to accept Israel on a very accommodating terms is quite generous.
>>> Akbar: I don’t want to bore you, but can you tell me WHICH Arabs are “willing to accept Israel”? Alex? Qifa Napkin? Hamas? Hezbollah? And do you trust their “cease fire” once Israel goes to the borders they recommend?

Yes Alex the unwavering supporter for peace. “Qifa Napkin” which if you were nothing but a would-be-colonizer you would know means “how long shall we cry” which has millions of times argued to put the differences of the past behind us. It is really beyond me how you can even start suspecting the intentions of Alex and QN. Indeed our people suffer from severe distrust and hysteria.

Yes Hamas too, which has declared they are willing to 67 deal if the Palestinian people ratify it. Hizballah too which is becoming a Lebanese party which no longer can act freely against Israel (of course, 1000 more dead and maybe that won’t be true anymore). And of course I trust them, as long as the solution is viable for them and not a result of arm twisting and as long as we abide by it and generally go in the right direction. Akbar, Turkey is a Muslim country we have had very good relationship with, which has mediated between Israel and Syria and helped us in many other occasions. The PM puts his reputation on the line with these negotiations, and a few days later, we start the most disproportionate war ever. This type of behavior will drive away not only cautious past-enemies, it will drive away everybody, including your strongest allies. Take Hamas. We had a cease-fire agreement, right? But the “targeted assassination” in the West bank of Hamas people continued. Is this the behavior of somebody who plans to take the cease fire and built more trust into it, or somebody who’s long term goals are very violent? Consider Oslo. This was a severe case of Palestinians amateurism. It said nothing about stopping settlement activities and indeed we continued with the “peace process” by investing 300M a year in new settlements. What message was that sending?

*If* Israel took the strategic decision to make peace, it will find that 90% of the Arabs are very receptive. *If* Israel was a mature state (which it isn’t) it would also know that there always going to 10% of sabotagers, even if you reached all of the final agreements. Mature nations don’t go on rampages and destroy their long-term strategic alliances and outlook because of pinpricks, that are bound to exist in the ME for many more years.

>>>> Rumyal: So in this time when Israel murders children, instead of whining like a baby “I know that you’re lying and you don’t really love me… wah wah…” just shut up and stop for a second to ruminate on your positions.
>>>> Akbar: Israel has not “murdered” any children. Especially when the Hamas “fighters” fire missiles in the middle of population centers.

Mr. Detached, Israel is attacking said population centers and Hamas is resisting the attack. Where would you want them to do it from, the moon? Of course I’ve heard that the Hamas has been using human shields. That still doesn’t justify hitting a target even if there is a slim chance that you’ll hit civilians. This is not my opinion—this is international law. I guess Mr. Detached also doesn’t know that Israel uses human shields, right? In the West bank army units are kidnapping civilians and they are making them lead the way into houses that are suspected as booby trapped. Of course you wouldn’t know and you wouldn’t care.

>>>> Rumyal: You quote observer saying “What a pity that the Russian Jewish delegation in 1905 insisted that Palestine be the homeland of the new Jewish state when the other delegations were quite open to having the state be in South America or Australia” as if he said something unacceptable.
>>> Akbar: What Observer is saying isn’t unacceptable to me. I’m used to reading the whiners here on this forum. I pointed it out, because most of the posters on this forum still can’t accept a Jewish state despite your claims that they do.

Some of the commentators here don’t support the two-state solution for many good reasons. Those who have this opinion do support a single secular state with equal rights for all. In the many conversations we’ve had on the topic even those who want a one-state solution supported the notion that the single state is going to recognize Jewish heritage and bondage to the land. They view it as an essential part of their own heritage of multi-culturalism which is a defining them of the Levant. I’m sure there are millions of Islamists for whom the only solution is to kill every living Jews. This is not where they hang out, you should seek them out though, you’ll have much more common language with them though. Here, you’re barking on the wrong tree.

>>>> Rumyal: This was written for you Akbar…
>>>> Akbar: Sorry, I don’t read anything from the anti-Israel website “Counterpunch”. It puts me to sleep…

And so you doom yourself to ignorance. How expected.

January 8th, 2009, 10:52 pm

 

Rumyal said:

Alex,

Very depressing. Even for the biggest Israel fanboys in America, the question of how they would reconcile possible conflict of interest is a legitimate question that should be discussed transparently. Alas, AIPAC is determined to just stick its head in the sand. This is an organization that will not be able to adapt to changing geo-political circumstances, which is an excellent thing.

January 8th, 2009, 11:11 pm

 

Alex said:

Rumyal,

Thank you for your comprehensive answer to Akbar. It’s great that you are trying … For you (being more trustworthy than me and Qifa Napkin) Akbar is willing to open up his mind just a little it.

You wouldn’t consider going to one of those AIPAC meetings and talking to them? : ) .. maybe they would listen to you.

January 8th, 2009, 11:44 pm

 

AIG said:

Rumyal,
Where you in Israel when Rabin was murdered? Do you remember what happened between that November and when Bibi was elected? What happened was that Peres, who was MORE leftist than Rabin became PM, but hamas and arafat launched the most aggressive attacks of suicide bombings that led to bibi being elected. I voted for Peres that election, but when I came to my senses I saw that Bibi was right and you and my former self are completely wrong. It is not Israel that has to change, it is the Arabs.

Israel is a flawed democracy stumbling along. The Arabs are clueless. What the Arabs want is equivalent to the Israelis asking the Germans to bring back to life the 6 million dead. It can never happen. Just like the Jews accepted that they lost in Europe, the Arabs have to accept that they lost in Palestine. There is no other solution except war.

January 9th, 2009, 1:25 am

 

Averroes said:

AIG said: “There is no other solution except war.”

Thank you for demonstrating the mainstream Israeli position so bluntly.

However, war, bombs, and killing will never bring you real peace and they will never bring you a lasting solution. Never, even if it takes 200 years, you will never get peace through crimes.

January 9th, 2009, 1:57 am

 

Averroes said:

By Saree Makdisi – Counter Punch January 7, 2009

Israel has killed and wounded almost four thousand men, women and children so far in its assault on Gaza; it has entombed whole families together in the ruins of their homes. As I write these words, news is breaking that Israeli bombs have killed at least 40 civilians huddling in a UN school which they mistakenly thought would be safer than the homes from which Israel’s relentless barrage-and its deliberately terrorizing “warning” leaflets and prerecorded phone calls-had already driven them. (I still have one of the leaflets the Israelis dropped on besieged Beirut in 1982 and the language is exactly the same-“flee, flee for your lives!”). Mosques, schools, houses, apartment buildings, have all been brought down on the heads of those inside.

All this death and destruction comes supposedly in retaliation for rocket attacks that had not inflicted a single fatality inside Israel in over a year. What happened to “an eye for an eye?”

As horrific as the toll of dead and injured already is, the scale of Israel’s bombing, and its targeting of ambulances and medical and rescue crews-several doctors and paramedics have been killed or wounded so far-means that the true totals are actually unknown. Countless numbers of victims have bled to death in the streets or in the ruins of their smashed homes. Calls for help aren’t getting through Gaza’s phone networks, battered to pieces along with the rest of the civilian infrastructure-its water, sewage, electricity systems, all already crumbling as a result of the years of siege. The victims that are evacuated-as often, these days, in civilian cars as in the remaining ambulances-make it to hospitals that are overwhelmed; many will die that might have otherwise been saved.

Any hospital would be overwhelmed under the circumstances: how then for a hospital that has already been cut off by the three year old Israeli blockade of Gaza from urgently needed supplies, medicines, drugs, anesthetics, spare parts, fuel for generators? In fact, the true story of what Israel is doing to the people of Gaza is to be seen in the besieged territory’s hospitals: the smashed, burned, dusty bodies of children being carried in on makeshift blankets (there aren’t enough stretchers to go around); the morgue drawers full of bodies; the emergency rooms with badly hurt, crying people scattered on stretchers, on beds, on the blood-washed floors, as the doctors run from one to another trying to figure out who can be saved and who must be attended to first-the boy with his feet blown off? the old woman with the huge gash in her head? the young man with his guts hanging out of his stomach? the anguished little girl thrashing about in pain, in fear, in agony and begging for her mother who vanished in some monstrous explosion? And outside, on the crowded sidewalks, the other side of the human suffering that Israel has chosen to inflict on an entire population: the wailing mothers, fathers and children; the weeping young men; the panicked people rushing around trying to find loved ones after each new Israeli bombing.

All this to make Israelis feel secure? What security is this kind of barbarism ever likely to gain them?

These are the scenes that every Palestinian and every Arab around the world sees every single day on the uncensored, unedited, unfiltered and relentlessly, brutally honest coverage broadcast on the Arabic Al-Jazeera channel. Unlike the US and UK networks, Al-Jazeera has correspondents and camera crews all over Gaza; they are Arabs, some of them are Palestinians, and they all live among the people whose suffering they record for the whole world to see; they can communicate with them in their own language and in the language of the audience as well. The coverage continues continuously 24 hours a day.

Ordinary people around the rest of the world are seeing the version of events that gets filtered through the editing suites, the cutting rooms, the editorializing of foreign media, and that, in the case of the US, finally makes it to their living room largely (if not entirely) sanitized, and packaged to them in two-minute sound bites by correspondents posted safely outside of Gaza and inside Israel. The coverage broadcast from Israel is heavily monitored, controlled and censored. The Israeli army found in 2006 that its panicked soldiers in Lebanon were using cell phones to call home for help; this time it made sure to inspect all of its soldiers to make sure that none takes a phone with him into Gaza. The army imposes a smothering control over the flow of information; nothing that is reported from or datelined Israel can be read at face value or taken for granted.

If you get your news from an American television network, no matter how horrible you think what’s happening in Gaza is, the reality that you are not seeing is much, much, much worse. (Perhaps that’s why the English-language Al-Jazeera channel, widely followed in the rest of the world, is unofficially banned here-not a single cable or satellite provider carries it).

And yet even with this imperfect coverage it must be said that people all over the world, including in the US, are protesting what they are seeing. Huge, million-person demonstrations have been held, from Melbourne to Jakarta, from Calcutta to Istanbul, and from Vienna to London, not to mention the huge popular protests in Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Amman, across the length and breadth of the West Bank, and in some of the largest protests ever held in Palestinian communities inside Israel. Across the US, too, people have been protesting, holding vigils, writing letters to the editors of the newspapers demanding more balance to the warped coverage of the events that we see here, especially in papers like the New York Times. And the internet has been a major source of information for all those millions who have figured out that they will never learn what they need to learn from the New York Times or the Washington Post or ABC or CNN. Sites like Counterpunch, Electronic Intifada, Alternet, Truthdig, Huffington Post, Salon and many others besides have carried extraordinarily intelligent and detailed pieces by a range of commentators whose sense of what is happening far exceeds what is made available by professional journalists in the mainstream press-including many superb pieces by Jewish Americans who give the lie, once and for all, to the absurd notion that their community is solidly behind Israel’s violence.

Indeed, it seems clear that the writing now being posted on alternative media outlets is also starting to outweigh the clumsy efforts still being churned out by America’s army of paid and unpaid cheerleaders for Israel, who have forsaken what little remained of their own humanity and blinded themselves to suffering that ought to move any rational, caring, sentient human being to tears-the Dershowitzes and Foxmans, the Orens and Boots, the Krauthammers and Peretzes, the Bards and Goldfarbs, the cynical apparatchiks of CAMERA and AIPAC and the mindless busybodies and shuffling zombies of Stand With Us, the Israel Project and the Israel on Campus Coalition-who persist with their stubborn, craven defense of the indefensible. About these misanthropes there is much to be said, most of it too unpleasant to print, so I’ll shift the burden here to those memorable closing lines of Wilfred Owen’s war poem “Insensibility:”

But cursed are dullards whom no cannon stuns,
That they should be as stones.
Wretched are they, and mean
With paucity that never was simplicity.
By choice they made themselves immune
To pity and whatever mourns in man
Before the last sea and the hapless stars;
Whatever mourns when many leave these shores;
Whatever shares
The eternal reciprocity of tears.”

As for Israel itself: once again it has revealed its true nature to the world. It was only after the first reports came in of their own serious fatalities-soldiers caught in an ambush, though the censored news reports from Israel claim that it was all friendly fire-that the Israeli media suddenly started carrying reports wondering whether things have gone too far. “The Price of Stubbornness over Gaza Exit is Dead Soldiers,” write Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff in Ha’aretz. “For the first time, Israeli TV broadcasts raised the question of whether it was worthwhile for the operation to continue.” Until this point, the Israeli media-and most of the country’s liberal intelligentsia, never mind the militant right wing-had been moralistically defending the bombing, and sometimes actually cheering it on. Starting the attacks on a Saturday was a “stroke of brilliance,” the Guardian’s Seamus Milne quotes the country’s biggest selling paper Yediot Aharonot as saying; “the element of surprise increased the number of people who were killed.” The daily Ma’ariv agreed: “We left them in shock and awe.” The rational and genuinely ethical voices of Amira Hass and Gideon Levy have never seemed more isolated.

The brute fact of the matter is that, as long as their air force is killing an entirely defenseless people, the Israeli public and media do cheer them on. As soon as they start paying any kind of price-no matter how grotesquely out of proportion to the level of damage their soldiers are inflicting on unarmed and innocent people-their bloodlust quickly cools. In Gaza, the Israeli infantry won’t take a single step forward unless the ground in front of them-and everything and everyone in it, armed, unarmed, whoever and whatever they are-has been safely cleared away for them by the air or by artillery. “These are ‘Georgia rules,’ which are not so far from the methods Russia used in its conflict last summer,” write Harel and Issacharoff in Ha’aretz. “The result is the killing of dozens of non-combatant Palestinians. The Gaza medical teams might not have reached all of them yet. When an Israeli force gets into an entanglement, as in Sajaiyeh last night [where three Israeli soldiers were killed], massive fire into built-up areas is initiated to cover the extraction. In other cases, a chain of explosions is initiated from a distance to set off Hamas booby-traps. It is a method that leaves a swath of destruction taking in entire streets, and does not distinguish military targets from the homes of civilians.” I’m not sure where the “Georgia” reference comes from: the Israelis used the very same tactics in Jenin and Nablus in 2002, and in southern Lebanon in 2006 and 1982. And it would be an act of futility to point out-for the millionth time-that the Israeli method of warfare takes place in sweeping disregard for the principles of international humanitarian law, not to mention total contempt for innocent human life. This is not to mention that most of the casualties pouring into Gaza’s morgues and hospitals are the victims of the sheer indiscriminate unleashing on densely populated civilian areas of high explosive ordnance from land, sea and air that has been characteristic of Israel’s military style since at least the 1970s.

Israel’s disregard for innocent human life is not motivated only by a desire to forestall the political consequences-especially during an electoral campaign-of Israeli military casualties. It is also a clear indicator of the contempt that Israel has for Palestinian life in general. The cold, hungry, tired, desperate, and terrified men, women and children that Israel is now sweeping away by the dozen in balls of fire and showers of shrapnel are the very same people that it had already reduced to what one UN official months ago warned was “a subhuman existence,” the deliberate product of the siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza for over three years, beginning in 2005, before the election of Hamas. They are the same people whose political and human rights Israel has been stifling since the occupation of 1967-twenty years before the creation of Hamas. They are the same people who were ethnically cleansed from their land in 1948 because, as non-Jews, they were inconveniently cluttering up the land that European Zionists wanted to turn into a Jewish state, no matter what the land’s actual population had to say about it.

Israel’s disregard for Palestinian life in Gaza today is, in short, a direct extension of its disregard for Palestinian life since 1948, and what is happening in Gaza today is the continuation of what happened six decades ago. Eighty percent of the people crammed into Gaza’s hovels and shanties are refugees or the descendants of refugees that armed Zionist gangs, which eventually coalesced into the infant Israeli army, terrorized from their homes elsewhere in southwestern Palestine in 1948. They have been herded, penned, and slaughtered by a remorseless power that clearly regards them as subhuman. If you think I’m stretching the point, I’m not. Listen to the words of Professor Arnon Sofer, the government consultant who did so much to help plan the isolation and imprisonment of Gaza, in a interview with the Jerusalem Post in 2004: “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe,” Sofer predicted. “Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure on the border is going to be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.” Sofer admitted only one worry with all the killing, which will, he says, be the necessary outcome of a policy that he himself helped to invent. “The only thing that concerns me,” he says, “is how to ensure that the boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings.”

Meticulously and clinically thought through even before the first rocket from Gaza claimed a life inside Israel, the slaughter in Gaza today has nothing to do with rockets or with Hamas. As Sofer himself explains, it is the purest and most distilled expression of Zionist ideology. “Unilateral separation doesn’t guarantee ‘peace,'” Sofer says in that same interview; “it guarantees a Zionist-Jewish state with an overwhelming majority of Jews.”

And that-taken right from the horse’s mouth-is what the slaughter of innocents in Gaza is fundamentally about: the people being killed today are the ones for whom there is no room in the Zionist vision of the state. They are regarded as an excess population. Not even Malthus thought that a redundant population should just be lined up and shot, or bombed into the ground. But, clearly, times have changed since 1798.

This inhuman madness will end only with the end of the violent ideology that spawned it-when those who are committed to the project of creating and maintaining a religiously and ethnically exclusivist state in what has always been a culturally and religiously heterogeneous land finally relent and accept the inevitable: that they have failed.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA and the author of Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.

January 9th, 2009, 2:23 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Rumyal

Wonderful exchange. One of the key thinkgs that have kept my hopes alive in these dark days is the fact that despite of the anger you and Shai have seen over the past couple of weeks on this forum, you continue, and seemingly unstopable to be a voice of reason and reconciliation. I salute both of you, and I would be happy and proud not only to be your neighbour, but also your cousine.

Over the past few years, few Nobel prizes were awarded collectively to large groups. I would like to start a movement to nominate Gaza medical personell, collectively and individually for a nobel prize for peace. In the face of adversity, carnage, and collective mruder, these have been the true heros. It is easy and cowardly to lob a 1000 pound bombs from the security of an airplane knowing that you have no real challange, or to send a rocket northward knowing you do have nothing to live for. But It is not easy to keep on removing the bodies of dead children from the carnage without losing your sanity. One thing, recognition of their heroism will be the ultimate inditment of the murderers.

January 9th, 2009, 7:04 am

 

Alex said:

OTW,

Wonderful idea… even though that will place them in the same league like President Shimon Peres.

January 9th, 2009, 7:26 am

 

Rumyal said:

Hi AIG ma hamatzav hakol beseder?

In computer science, there is the notion of greedy algorithms. These are algorithms that at any given step choose the best available option based on local knowledge. These algorithms are good for simple problems. For more complex problems however you many times need to take a step back and apply algorithms that seemingly do small uncoordinated steps in many different locales of the problem domain, until eventually out of a chaos a complete solution emerges.

You said in Qifa’s blog that you are not willing to plan ahead. The realities taught you to take care for your survival every day from scratch in a “greedy” manner. And of course if you zoom in to December 20th 2008 at that day rockets were fired into Israel so how to solve that particular problem in that particular day? You obviously can’t talk to anybody, because that requires a long term strategy, which you think you can’t have. So the only possible solution is to apply force.

War is not a solution. It’s an illusion of a solution. It’s like drinking to forget your troubles. You wake up with a hangover and your problems are still there, only they have been neglected one more day.

Suppose you’re right and that there is no peaceful solution, what then? Fight till the last drop of blood and go in a bang? No thanks. I would give peaceful options a chance even if they are a long-shot.

Oslo failed and brought all the suicide bombing with it (I was in Israel in the 90’s) because it didn’t address any of the Palestinian problems while compromising their position and leadership. They had to act quickly to show that they reject this “new order”. Yes they chose a horrible weapon but still, our crimes are much more severe. So instead of wallowing in the past, we need to think of new solutions that will give the Palestinians what they need and ask for and not a Bantustan solution which is just another form of subjugation.

Now what is the problem with the right of return? What are you afraid of exactly? What’s wrong with compensating people and letting them choose to live in Israel if they want to? Can’t stand too many Arabs around you? Well if that’s the case then you shouldn’t live in the Middle East.

January 9th, 2009, 8:12 am

 

Rumyal said:

OTW,

Thank you for your kind words. Note I never asked anybody not to be angry… That applies to the people of Israel too, when they receive the rockets, it’s not fun, it’s maddening, but there’s a way to react…

January 9th, 2009, 8:58 am

 

Shai said:

OTW,

I’ll support any such initiative. There’s no doubt they are the real heroes these days. Don’t forget, they are not only evacuating the injured and dead, they are also dying as well.

Rumyal,

I second OTW’s comments about your exchange with AP and AIG. From my own point of view, and from that of peace-loving Israelis, you are very much needed here. In these horrific days, it is a bit difficult to claim you and I are “holding a torch” of any sort (sanity? hope?). But please know that I am proud to stand alongside you.

AIG,

I was saddened to hear you were banned all this time. I thought you had made a conscious decision not to participate, knowing you couldn’t possibly bring anything positive to light. And, judging from your and Akbar’s comments, I think both of you haven’t changed an ounce, despite the catastrophe our leadership and our army are bringing upon 1.5 million citizens as you read these words.

Neither one of you could even express the slightest compassion for the 700 dead and 3000 injured (so far). No, you remain focused on the 3 Israelis that have died over the past 8 years, and the 10-15 that have died since this criminal operation began. To you, scale means nothing. Your walls of defense will let no bit of news, no image of death and suffering, penetrate the hardened shell of hatred and distrust. To you, Arab blood is not the same as Jewish blood. How would you have reacted, if after that first day (Saturday), newspaper articles read “1 Palestinian dead. 250 Israelis killed… and 700 injured.”? You would have immediately called out “Genocide, Antisemitism, Existential Threat!” and recruited anyone and everyone in the U.S. and “Ramat Hasharon” to go fight those bearded bastards, right?

Have you ever given that consideration? What would YOU do if you were a Palestinian in Gaza, suffocated by the mighty Israel, day and night, nonstop? The average Palestinian family has one meal a day! When was the last time you had one meal a day? When was the last time 122 mm shells hit your house and your neighborhood, every hour of the day, for over two weeks? When was the last time you went out to the street, and saw tens of bodies lying dead on the ground, bleeding their last ounces of life away, torn to pieces by shells, by bombs, and by bullets? Is there ANYTHING that can be said about this massacre, that will cause even a single neuron of pain or thought in your body to be turned on? Is the self-defensive mechanism so well-oiled, that any such suggestion is met with a formidable IDF-style army of apathy?

January 9th, 2009, 9:05 am

 

Rumyal said:

Shai,

Well if not a torch then a broom and a scoop, to clean up the mess…

Yalla layla tov it’s already 1:30am here in Ramat Hasharon.

January 9th, 2009, 9:38 am

 
 

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